Tillandsia usneoides or more popularly called Spanish moss, Buhok ni Ester, Buhok ni Sabel, Old Man’s Beard , Pele’s Hair , Spanish beard , French Wig, Long Hair
Buhok ni Ester and Buhok ni Sabel are the most common names use by gardeners and backyard hobbyists in the country. The plant resembles tangled masses of hairs being blown away by the wind.
This plant might have been first introduced into the country at an early date probably during the late Manila-Acapulco galleon trade when materials from Mexico and Latin America were packed with stuffing of this plant.
Some say that the plant might have been introduced during the late American colonial rule when people started to bring plants from the United States.
Tillandsia usneoides presented like jelly fish at a stall at Quezon Memorial Circle
The plant serves as a curiosity and a collector’s item even to this date , This is very commonly sold in garden stalls , orchid and plant shows where traders coming from Quezon , Laguna , Cavite and Batangas .
There are several commercial farms which propagates them in large quantities like Insular Botanic Garden and Farm in the province of Quezon , They have 3 to 5 different kinds or varieties of this plant that the farm is growing. The most notable are the Tillandsia usneoides variety major ( with thicker leaves and plants) and Tillandsia usneoides variety minor ( with thin leaves) . The farm was established around 2005 and at at least 60 different kind of bromeliads, guzmanias, tillandsias .( Those who wanted to schedule a visit or tour the farm must try to set an appointment with the farm manager several days or week in advance)
Some horticulturists and hobbyists say that there might be at least a dozen kinds of this plants.
For backyard and collectors living in Mindanao who wanted to buy Tillandsias or bromeliads .
Mr. Bing Onari 639436243695 and Ms. Joanne Onari +639177066049 in Davao among others selling them.
Habitat and Range:
Found in a very wide range of subtropical and tropical habitats in Southern part of the United States of America (mangroves, scrub, rainforest, gallery forest, montane forest, cloud forest), from 0 to 3300 m above sea level.
Often abundant in wet habitats: along ponds, streams, rivers, and in swamps .
Spanish moss is an epiphyte which absorbs nutrients and water from the air and rainfall. Spanish moss is colloquially known as “air plant”
Buhok ni Ester at the Del’s Garden within Quezon Memorial Circle
Spanish mosses are used in variety of uses in much of their range , They are used in pillow stuffing, including building insulation, mulch, packing material, mattress stuffing, and fiber. In the early 1900s it was used commercially in the padding of car seats.
It is also used for wrapping materials , in some instances – Plants also absorbs pollution.
It is also used for different arts and crafts. In the Philippines, Spanish moss is used in different ways- Like for covering pots and roots of orchids during plant shows. It enhances the beauty of the landscape and a nice finish when landscapers used this plant .
The plant is also used as an accent in old trees to make it older and make the place scarier in films .
In some instances, living Spanish mosses are also used as wreath and are hung in gardens.
Cultivation and Care:
In Metro Manila and places where there is Type 1 climatic condition. Dry from mid- November to mid- May .
Frequent misting and watering is advice and it must be grown in part shady condition to avoid dehydration of the plant.
The plant care is almost care free in many parts of the country.
Try to use your creativity arranging Tillandsias in your garden. I attended a DIY lecture by a well known interior decorator and stylist . Try to use some some recycled items like soft drink bottles or old discarded home decor as additional accent.