Don't Worry: The Moss Isn't Hurting Sugar Land Trees

If you’ve been to a Sugar Land park recently, you might have noticed some long, green pieces of moss hanging from prominent trees. This moss, most often Spanish Moss or Ball Moss, may look like it is detrimental to the health of its tree, but Sugar Land Director of Parks and Recreation Joe Chesser said there’s no need to be worried.

“Spanish Moss and Ball Moss pose no harm to the trees,” Chesser said. “Healthy trees will not be impacted.  The moss does not feed off the tree but simply uses it as a place to live. The weight of the moss is insignificant on healthy trees.” 

Spanish and Ball Moss are harmless epiphytes, according to the University of Florida. Epiphytes are plants that survive on the nutrients and moisture provided by the atmospheres. Spanish and Ball Moss are particularly common in the southeast United States. While moss likes to attach itself to different plants, including trees, it is not considered a parasite because it doesn’t harm the plants. Simply put, Spanish and Ball Moss like growing in places where humidity is high – Sugar Land included.

The cost to manually remove moss from trees is expensive, Chesser said, and often causes more harm than benefit, as removing the moss is essentially taking it away from its home. He said it is almost impossible to completely remove all of the moss from trees.

Parks and Rec staff monitor trees around Sugar Land, including those in Sugar Mill Park, where moss like this is common and prominent.

The Parks and Rec staff often contacts the Texas A&M Forestry Service for a second opinion on how they should maintain trees in the area, specifically when dealing with moss. Chesser said once the Forestry Service makes a recommendation, Parks and Rec staff take that into account when making a final decision on whether or not to remove the moss. 

For more information about tree health, visit www.sugarlandtx.gov/trees.