There are some incredibly romantic images of moss dangling from trees. From the bayou of Louisiana to Minesing swamps, there is some incredible aesthetic beauty in moss hanging from tree branches. While it may look pretty, does it hurt or damage the tree in any way?

The answer to this question is a little complicated. Fortunately, our arborists at Pacifique Tree Care know a thing or two about the relationship between moss and trees. Be sure to contact Pacifique Tree Care for all of your tree needs. Our arborists will help solve all of your tree care issues and questions.

What is Moss?

Moss is a rootless plant that prefers very moist environments. If your trees happen to receive a good amount of moisture either from fog, rain, or a nearby creek, chances are you have moss, lichen, or algae growing on your tree.

If the “moss” is hanging off the tree in long strands, it may be Spanish moss, which is not a moss — it is a bromeliad. Don’t be alarmed though, Spanish moss only uses the tree for support and is not a parasitic organism. The relationship between the Spanish moss and the tree is purely benign.

Similar to Spanish Moss, all algae, lichen, and moss don’t pose a threat to your trees. Sometimes various blooms of algae or lichen can be mistaken for a fungal disease; however, these plants are not parasitic.

What does it mean?

If you have moss, Spanish moss, algae, or lichen growing on your tree, it may be a signal that your tree is struggling in its current state. Because these plants favor broken or moist branches, they often appear around the same time trees begin to die.

The area where mosses and lichens show up may also indicate where the tree is having issues regulating water. A large growth of lichen or moss on a tree could correlate with a very wet, humid section of your property, such as a natural spring or a depression in your lawn. Consider draining this section if you want to keep algae, lichen, and moss off of your trees in that area.

While algae, lichen, and moss are often blamed for tree problems, they are blamed unjustly. In reality, these plants show up as a result of poor tree health rather than being the culprits of poor tree health.

Where the Real Danger Lies

When there is a significant amount of moss, lichen, or algae on a tree, it can look charming and quaint. However, if a windstorm happens to sweep through your backyard, you may be in trouble. Because wet moss can be heavy, it actually weighs down on the branches and may make the branches weaker during storms.

If you want to reduce the amount of moss, lichen, and algae on your trees, consider pruning and allowing proper drainage of water near the trees. By pruning, you allow more moisture to evaporate, creating drier conditions that do not favor algae, lichen, or moss growth.

Call the Experts!

If you notice a buildup of moss, lichen, or algae, don’t immediately remove it. Instead, let the experts evaluate the health of your tree. Call the arborists at Pacifique Tree Care to ensure that your tree is healthy.