Gainesville is the county seat and largest city in Alachua County, United States, the principal city of the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population of Gainesville in the 2017 US Census estimates was 132,249, a 6.4% growth from 2010. Gainesville is the largest city in the region of North Central Florida, it is a component of the Gainesville-Lake City Combined Statistical Area, which had a 2013 population of 337,925. Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, the nation's fifth-largest university campus by enrollment, as well as to Santa Fe College. Gainesville is located at 29°39'55" North, 82°20'10" West, the same latitude as Houston, Texas. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 62.4 square miles, of which 61.3 square miles is land and 1.1 square miles is water. The total area is 1.74% water. Gainesville's tree canopy is both dense and species rich, including broadleaf evergreens and deciduous species. Gainesville is the only city with more than 10,000 residents in the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, it is surrounded by rural area, including the 21,000-acre wilderness of Paynes Prairie on its southern edge.
The city is characterized by its medium size and central location, about 90 minutes' driving time from either Jacksonville or Orlando, two hours from Tampa, five hours from either Atlanta or Miami. The area is dominated by the University of Florida, which in 2008 was the third-largest university by enrollment in the US, as of 2016 was the fifth-largest. Gainesville's climate is defined as humid subtropical. Due to its inland location, Gainesville experiences wide temperature fluctuations for Florida, it is part of USDA Plant hardiness zone 9a. During the hot season, from May 15 to September 30, the city's climate is similar to the rest of the state, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms and high humidity. Temperatures range from the low 70s at night to around 92 °F during the day on average; the all-time record high of 104 °F was reached on June 27, 1952. From November through March, the Gainesville area has a climate distinct from much of peninsular Florida with 16 nights of freezing or below temperatures and sustained freezes occurring every few years.
The all-time record low of 6 °F was reached on February 13, 1899, the city experienced light snow and freezing rain on Christmas Eve, 1989. Traces of snow were recorded in 1977, 1996, 2010 and 2016; the daily average temperature in January is 54.3 °F. As with the rest of the state, cold temperatures are always accompanied by clear skies and high pressure systems. Temperatures reaching 100 °F or falling below 20 °F are rare, having occurred on June 16, 2015 and January 11, 2010; the city's flora and fauna are distinct from coastal regions of the state, include many deciduous species, such as dogwood, maple and sweet gum, alongside palms, live oaks, other evergreens. Thus the city enjoys brief periods of fall color in late November and December and a noticeable, prolonged spring from mid-February through early April; this is a pleasant period, as colorful blooms of azalea and redbud complement a cloudless blue sky, for this is the period of the lowest precipitation and lowest humidity. The city averages 47.33 inches of rain per year.
June through September accounts for a majority of annual rainfall, while autumn and early winter is the driest period. Since the 1990s, suburban sprawl has been a concern for a majority of the city commissioners; the "New Urbanization" plan to gentrify the area between historic Downtown and the University of Florida may slow the growth of suburban sectors and spark a migration toward upper-level apartments in the inner city. The area north of the university is seeing active redevelopment. Many gentrification plans rely on tax incentives that have sparked controversy and are sometimes unsuccessful. University Corners, which would not have been proposed without a $98 million tax incentive program by the city, was to be "a crowning jewel of the city's redevelopment efforts", 450 condos and hotel units and 98,000 square feet of retail space in eight stories covering three city blocks, on 3.4 acres purchased for $15.5 million. 19 thriving businesses were demolished in April 2007, but in May 2008 deposit checks were refunded to about 105 people who reserved units, in July 2008 developers spent "$120,000 to beautify the site, so we won't have this ugly green fence."Gainesville's east side houses the majority of the city's African-American community, while the west side consists of the student and white resident population.
West of the city limits are large-scale planned communities, most notably Haile Plantation, built on the site of its eponymous former plantation. The destruction of the city's landmark Victorian courthouse in the 1960s, which some considered unnecessary, brought the idea of historic preservation to the community's attention; the bland county building that replaced the grand courthouse became known to some locals as the "air conditioner". Additional destruction of other historic buildings in the downtown followed. Only a small handful of older buildings are left, like the Hippodrome State Theatre, at one time a feder
University of Florida
The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant research university in Gainesville, United States. It is a senior member of the State University System of Florida; the university traces its origins to 1853 and has operated continuously on its Gainesville campus since September 1906. The University of Florida is one of sixty-two elected member institutions of the Association of American Universities, the association of preeminent North American research universities, the only AAU member university in Florida; the university is classified as a Research University with Very High Research by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. After the Florida state legislature's creation of performance standards in 2013, the Florida Board of Governors designated the University of Florida as one of the three "preeminent universities" among the twelve universities of the State University System of Florida. For 2019, U. S. News & World Report ranked Florida as the eighth best public university in the United States.
The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Schools. It is the third largest Florida university by student population, is the eighth largest single-campus university in the United States with 54,906 students enrolled for the fall 2018 semester; the University of Florida is home to sixteen academic colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes. It offers multiple graduate professional programs—including business administration, law, medicine and veterinary medicine—on one contiguous campus, administers 123 master's degree programs and seventy-six doctoral degree programs in eighty-seven schools and departments; the university's seal is the seal of the state of Florida, on the state flag. The University of Florida's intercollegiate sports teams known by their "Florida Gators" nickname, compete in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I and the Southeastern Conference. In their 111-year history, the university's varsity sports teams have won 41 national team championships, 36 of which are NCAA titles, Florida athletes have won 275 individual national championships.
In addition, University of Florida students and alumni have won 126 Olympic medals including 60 gold medals. The University of Florida traces its origins to 1853, when the East Florida Seminary, the oldest of the University of Florida's four predecessor institutions, was founded in Ocala, Florida. On January 6, 1853, Governor Thomas Brown signed a bill that provided public support for higher education in Florida. Gilbert Kingsbury was the first person to take advantage of the legislation, established the East Florida Seminary, which operated until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861; the East Florida Seminary was Florida's first state-supported institution of higher learning. James Henry Roper, an educator from North Carolina and a state senator from Alachua County, had opened a school in Gainesville, the Gainesville Academy, in 1858. In 1866, Roper offered his land and school to the State of Florida in exchange for the East Florida Seminary's relocation to Gainesville; the second major precursor to the University of Florida was the Florida Agricultural College, established at Lake City by Jordan Probst in 1884.
Florida Agricultural College became the state's first land-grant college under the Morrill Act. In 1903, the Florida Legislature, desiring to expand the school's outlook and curriculum beyond its agricultural and engineering origins, changed the name of Florida Agricultural College to the "University of Florida," a name the school would hold for only two years. In 1905, the Florida Legislature passed the Buckman Act, which consolidated the state's publicly supported higher education institutions; the member of the legislature who wrote the act, Henry Holland Buckman became the namesake of Buckman Hall, one of the first buildings constructed on the new university's campus. The Buckman Act organized the State University System of Florida and created the Florida Board of Control to govern the system, it abolished the six pre-existing state-supported institutions of higher education, consolidated the assets and academic programs of four of them to form the new "University of the State of Florida."
The four predecessor institutions consolidated to form the new university included the University of Florida at Lake City in Lake City, the East Florida Seminary in Gainesville, the St. Petersburg Normal and Industrial School in St. Petersburg, the South Florida Military College in Bartow; the Buckman Act consolidated the colleges and schools into three institutions segregated by race and gender—the University of the State of Florida for white men, the Florida Female College for white women, the State Normal School for Colored Students for African-American men and women. The City of Gainesville, led by its Mayor William Reuben Thomas, campaigned to be home to the new university. On July 6, 1905, the Board of Control selected Gainesville for the new university campus. Andrew Sledd, president of the pre-existing University of Florida at Lake City, was selected to be the first president of the new University of the State of Florida; the 1905-1906 academic year was a year of transition. Architect William A. Edwards designed the first official campus buildings in the Collegiate Gothic style.
Classes began on the new Gainesville campus with 102 students enrolled. In 1909, the school's name
Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve is a United States National Preserve located in South Florida, about 45 miles west of Miami on the Atlantic coastal plain. The 720,000-acre Big Cypress, along with Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, became the first national preserves in the United States National Park System when they were established on October 11, 1974. In 2008, Florida film producer Elam Stoltzfus featured the preserve in a PBS documentary. Big Cypress borders the wet freshwater marl prairies of Everglades National Park to the south, other state and federally protected cypress country in the west, with water from the Big Cypress flowing south and west into the coastal Ten Thousand Islands region of Everglades National Park; when Everglades National Park was established in 1947, Big Cypress was intended to be included. Big Cypress has a tropical savannah climate. Days are some of the hottest in Florida. January has an average high of 78.4 °F and August has an average high of 94.0 °F, while Miami averages 76.1 and 90.7 °F, respectively.
However, nights cool down into the 50s °F in winter. Means range from 66.5 °F in January to 84.7 °F in August. Highs exceed 90 °F on 159 days per year, while they fall below 70 °F on just 10. Hardiness zone is 10A, with an average annual minimum of 34 °F; the lowest recorded daily high was 48 °F in 2010, while the highest low on record was 89 °F in 2005. Ecologically, the preserve is more elevated than the western Everglades. Big Cypress was occupied by various cultures of Native Americans, their descendants include the federally recognized Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Early European-American settlers hunted herons and egrets, whose feathers were popular with 19th and 20th century hat-makers in New York and Paris. Poachers hunted American crocodiles to near extinction; when the timber industry began to operate in the area, it built railroads, cut and hauled out most of the cypress ecosystem's old growth trees. Portions of the Big Cypress were farmed for winter vegetables.
The search for oil in Florida began in 1901 with no success. After 80 more dry holes had been drilled throughout the state, on September 26, 1943, Humble Oil Company discovered Florida's first producing oil well in the northwest portion of what is now Big Cypress National Preserve. Big Cypress National Preserve differs from Everglades National Park in that, when it was established by law in 1974, the Miccosukee and Traditional people were provided with permanent rights to occupy and use the land in traditional ways, they and other hunters may use off-road vehicles, home and business owners have been permitted to keep their properties in the preserve. As in Everglades National Park, petroleum exploration was permitted within Big Cypress in the authorizing legislation, but plans are under way for the government to buy out the remaining petroleum leases in order to shut down non-governmental commercial access to the environment. In the 1960s, Native Americans and conservationists succeeded at fighting an effort to move Miami International Airport's international flights to a new airport in the Big Cypress area.
They followed up with a campaign to have Big Cypress included in the National Parks System. Although construction of the new airport had begun, it was stopped after one runway was completed, it is now known as the Dade-Collier Transition Airport. The preserve is diverse biologically. Dominated by a wet cypress forest, it is host to an array of flora and fauna, including mangroves, alligators, venomous snakes like the cottonmouth and eastern diamondback rattlesnake, a variety of birds, river otter, coyote, black bear and cougar; the preserve is home to federally listed endangered species including, the eastern indigo snake, the Florida sandhill crane. Twelve campgrounds in Big Cypress are tailored to motor vehicles, where tourists planning overnight stays can park their vehicles and off-road vehicles in designated areas; the southern terminus of the Florida National Scenic Trail is located in Big Cypress, provides hiking opportunities during the winter months. Hiking throughout Big Cypress is enjoyable in all seasons, with most of the cypress country more hospitable to hikers than the dense sawgrass prairies of the central Everglades.
Some of the most beautiful wading and walking can be found in cypress strands and prairies between the Loop Road and the Tamiami Trail. Wildlife is abundant in the preserve. Most notable and seen, the American Alligators can be up to around 12 feet in length. Another notable and endangered animal, the Florida Panther calls the Preserve home. Though both relatively timid, wading through the cypress country requires constant alertness. Before going out, visit one of the preserve's visitor centers for information on the current conditions and local trails; the visitor centers offer an educational video about the surroundings viewable on the Big Cypress YouTube channel. Rangers lead swamp walk hikes in the dry winter months, as well as canoe trips, boardwalk talks. Hunting is a long-established recreational activity in the area and is protected in the designation of the area as a Preserve
The American alligator, sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian reptile endemic to the southeastern United States. It is one of two living species in the genus Alligator within the family Alligatoridae. Adult male American alligators measure 3.4 to 4.6 m in length, can weigh up to 453 kg. Females are smaller; the American alligator inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps from Texas to southeastern and coastal Virginia. It is distinguished from the sympatric American crocodile by its broader snout, with overlapping jaws and darker coloration, is less tolerant of saltwater but more tolerant of cooler climates than the American crocodile, found only in tropical climates. American alligators are apex predators and consume fish, reptiles and mammals. Hatchlings feed on invertebrates, they play an important role as ecosystem engineers in wetland ecosystems through the creation of alligator holes, which provide both wet and dry habitats for other organisms.
Throughout the year, in particular during the breeding season, American alligators bellow to declare territory and locate suitable mates. Male American alligators use infrasound to attract females. Eggs are laid in a nest of vegetation, sticks and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. Young are born with yellow bands around their bodies and are protected by their mother for up to one year; the conservation status of the American alligator is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Hunting had decimated their population, the American alligator was listed as an endangered species by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Subsequent conservation efforts have allowed their numbers to increase and the species was removed from endangered status in 1987. American alligators are now harvested for their skins and meat; the species is the official state reptile of three states: Florida and Mississippi. The American alligator was first classified by French zoologist François Marie Daudin as Crocodilus mississipiensis in 1801.
In 1807 Georges Cuvier created the genus Alligator. They are grouped in the family Alligatoridae with the caimans; the superfamily Alligatoroidea includes all crocodilians that are more related to the American alligator than to either the Nile crocodile or the gharial. Members of this superfamily first arose in about 100 -- 66 million years ago. Leidyosuchus of Alberta is the earliest known fossil, from the Campanian era 83 to 72 million years ago. Fossil alligatoroids have been found throughout Eurasia, because bridges across both the North Atlantic and the Bering Strait connected North America to Eurasia about 66 to 23 million years ago. Alligators and caimans split in North America during the late Cretaceous, the caimans reached South America by the Paleogene, before the closure of the Isthmus of Panama during the Neogene period, from about 23 to 2.58 million years ago. The Chinese alligator descended from a lineage that crossed the Bering land bridge during the Neogene. Fossils identical to the existing American alligator are found throughout the Pleistocene, from 2.5 million to 11.7 thousand years ago.
In 2016, a Miocene fossil skull of an alligator was found at Florida. Unlike the other extinct alligator species of in the same genus, the fossil skull was indistinguishable from that of the modern American alligator; this alligator and the American alligator are now considered to be sister taxa, meaning that the Alligator mississippiensis lineage has existed in North America for over 8 million years. The alligator's full mitochondrial genome was sequenced in the 1990s and it suggests the animal evolved at a rate similar to mammals and greater than birds and most cold-blooded vertebrates. However, the full genome, published in 2014, suggests that the alligator evolved much more than mammals and birds. Domestic American alligators range from long and slender to short and robust in response to variations in factors such as growth rate and climate; the American alligator is a large species of crocodilian. On average it is the second largest species in the family Alligatoridae, behind only the black caiman.
Weight varies depending on length, health and available food sources. Similar to many other reptiles that range expansively into temperate zones, American alligators from the northern end of their range, such as southern Arkansas and northern North Carolina, tend to reach smaller sizes. Large adult American alligators tend to be robust and bulky compared to other length crocodilians, for example captive males measuring 3 to 4 m were found to weigh 200 to 350 kg - although captive specimens may outweigh wild specimens due to lack of hunting behavior and other stressors; as with all crocodilians, as opposed to many mammals where size diminishes with old age, healthy American alligators may continue to expand throughout their lives and the oldest specimens are the largest. Old, large male American alligators reach an expected maximum size of up to 4.6 m in length, weighing up to 453 kg, while females reach a maximum of 3 m. On rare occasions, a large, old male may grow to an greater length. During the 19th and 20th centuries, larger males reaching 5 to 6 m (16 ft 5 in to 19 ft 8
Polk County, Florida
Polk County is located in the U. S. state of Florida. The county population was 602,095, its county seat is Bartow, its largest city is Lakeland. Polk County comprises the Lakeland–Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area; this MSA is the 87th-most populous metropolitan statistical area and the 89th-most populous primary statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012. The center of population of Florida is located near the city of Lake Wales. Polk County is home to one public university, one state college, four private universities. One Fortune 500 company, Publix Super Markets, has headquarters in the county; the first people to inhabit the area now called Polk County arrived close to 12,000 years ago during the last ice age as the first paleo-indians following big game southward reached the peninsula of Florida. By this time, the peninsula had gone through several expansions and contractions due to changing sea level; these first paleo-indians, nomadic hunter/gatherers who did not establish any permanent settlements gave way to the "archaic people".
These were ancestors of the historic Native Americans who came in contact with the Spaniards when they arrived on the peninsula. These Native Americans thrived on the peninsula, it is estimated. As was common elsewhere in the Americas, contact with Europeans had a devastating effect on the Native Americans. Smallpox and other diseases, to which the Native Americans had no immunity, caused widespread epidemic and death; those who had not succumbed to diseases such as these were either killed or enslaved as Spanish explorers and settlers arrived. Within a few hundred years, nearly the entire pre-Columbian population of Polk County had been wiped out. For around 250 years after Ponce De Leon arrived on the peninsula, the Spanish nominally ruled Florida but established few settlements. In the late 17th century, Florida went through an unstable period in which the French and British ruled the peninsula. By this time, the remnants of early Native Americans joined with refugee Creek Native Americans from Georgia and The Carolinas to form the Seminole Indian Tribe, through a process of ethnogenesis.
After the American Revolution, the peninsula reverted to Spanish rule. In 1819, Florida became a U. S. territory as a result of the Adams-Onis Treaty. From the 1830s until 1842, the US conducted the Seminole Wars in an effort to remove the Seminole from the territory; some were removed to Indian Territory. While Florida gained statehood in 1845, it was not until 1861 that Polk County was created from the eastern part of Hillsborough County, it was named in honor of former US President James K. Polk, whose 1845 inauguration was on the day after Florida became a state. Following the Civil War, the county commission established the county seat on 120 acres donated in the central part of the county. Bartow, the county seat, was named after Francis S. Bartow, a Confederate colonel from Georgia, the first Confederate brigade commander to die in battle. Colonel Bartow was buried in Savannah, Georgia with military honors, promoted posthumously to the rank of Brigadier General; the original name of the town was Fort Blount.
Several other towns and counties in the South changed their name to Bartow. The first courthouse built in Bartow was constructed in 1867, it was replaced twice, in 1884 and in 1908. As the third courthouse to stand on the site, the present structure houses the Polk County Historical Museum and Genealogical Library. After the Civil War, some 400 Confederate veterans settled here with families before the end of the century. In the post-Reconstruction period, black railway workers were among the first African Americans to settle in Polk County, in 1883 south of Lake Wire; the following year they founded St. John's Baptist Church, which served as the first school for freedmen's children. Other workers arrived for jobs in the phosphate industry; this area became the center of a predominately African-American community known as Moorehead, after Rev. H. K. Moorehead, called to St. John's in 1906; the community developed its own businesses, professional class, cultural institutions. Its students had to go to other cities for high school until 1928, when the first upper school to serve blacks was established here.
White violence rose against blacks in the late 19th century in a regionwide effort to establish and maintain white supremacy as Southern states disenfranchised most blacks and imposed Jim Crow. Whites lynched 20 African Americans in Polk County from 1895-1921. While others were killed for alleged crimes, one black man was lynched for insulting a white woman; the man, Henry Scott was a porter on a train from Lakeland to Bartow. While he was preparing a berth for one woman on May 20, 1920, another white woman became angry that he made her wait, she sent a telegram to the next station where he was met by a sherriff and turned over to a mob that shot him 40-t0 times. Columbia County had 20 such lynching murders. In the first few decades of the 1900s, thousands of acres of land around Bartow were purchased by the phosphate industry; the county seat became the hub of the largest phosphate industry in the United States, attracting both immigrants and African-American an
Swampland in Florida
Swampland in Florida is a figure of speech referring to real estate scams in which a seller misrepresent unusable swampland as developable property. These types of unseen property scams became known in the United States in the 20th century, the phrase is used metaphorically for any scam that misrepresents what is being sold. Expressions like "If you believe that I have swampland in Florida to sell you", suggests the recipient is gullible enough to fall for an obvious fraud. Similar phrases involve "selling" the Brooklyn Bridge or nonexistent "oceanfront property in Arizona"; the phrase originates from the common land banking scams of the 1920s, when booming "land mania" preceded the Great Depression. One of the original sellers of swampland was Charles Ponzi. Similar terms came from the early 20th century where con-men would sell landmarks to which no one owns the title such as the Brooklyn Bridge to newly arrived immigrants in the United States; the phrase about gullibility referring to those events said, "if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you."
Those evolved in the 1960s and 1970s to include fraudulent sales of near-worthless swampland real estate in Florida. Though the term originates in the United States, it is now understood and used in other English-speaking countries. Grant Oster points out that the practice of the unseen property scam predates the existence of the United States, he points to Erik the Red's sale of colonization of circa 982, as an example. The common usage of this term implies. Without development or some ability to develop it, it is not valuable for real estate purposes. There have been cases that swampland was purchased and turned into valuable property, notably for the creation of Walt Disney World and to some extent including many developed lands in Florida. On the other hand, there are arguments made for the value of scenery and wildlife found in swamplands in their natural condition. Sometimes, done by businesses to meet a development permit requirement to preserve some Florida land in order to build on other Florida land.
In the 1960s and 1970s, scammers used nationwide advertising to lure victims to buy Florida real estate without visiting the properties first. This technique was used notably by the Gulf American Land Corp. in the communities of Cape Coral and Golden Gate Estates, Florida. It was a form of confidence trick; the new owners came to find their land was under water in a swamp or in some other way impossible to build upon. As the scam became known and New York legislators acted in 1963 to restrict this false advertising. Florida enacted the Installment Land Sales Act that year in an effort to restore its reputation. Swampland scams still occur in Florida; the Internet has brought about a resurgence via online auctions of Florida real estate. Scammers circumvent commercial registration requirements by making one-on-one sales. Over great distances some buyers can be convinced to pay before verifying claims, it involves unbuildable swampland misrepresented as buildable to fraudulently inflate the sale price.
A similar phrase, which replaces the Florida with Arizona, is used for the same reasons. As Arizona is well known to have an arid climate, it is assumed that wetlands in that state are non-existent; the implication is that the target of the insult is not only more gullible than someone who would buy swampland in Florida, but ignorant. Another variation of the phrase is "ocean front property in Arizona", of which none exists because Arizona is a landlocked state. Country songwriter George Strait wrote a song with this variation as its title. Recent land sale scams have been sale of inaccessible desert land in west Texas; the lots are sold over the internet, are desert properties have no access to water, no sewer service, in many cases, are not accessible by road. Economic bubble Florida land boom of the 1920s Real estate bubble Real estate economics Land banking scams Picayune Strand State Forest in fiction Glengarry Glen Ross, a 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Mamet about unscrupulous salesmen attempting to sell the titular plots of unbuildable Florida swampland to unsuspecting clients.
Adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film of the same name. Florida Law Chapter 498: Land Sales Practices "$300,000 "Swampland" Scam Leads to Arrest" at State of Florida Attorney General "Hernando Man Convicted for Selling Swamplands to Floridians" at State of Florida Attorney General "I got swampland in Florida to sell you" at Miami Beach 411 "Lake Apopka: The New Florida Swampland Scam" at Southwest Orlando blog "Beyond Disney World: Florida's swamp land is something to be admired and explored" at Poste Restante online travel magazine Florida Land Scams - land scams in Polk County, Florida
Spanish moss is an epiphytic flowering plant that grows upon larger trees in tropical and subtropical climates, native to much of Mexico, the Bahamas, Central America, South America, the southern United States, the West Indies and is naturalized in Queensland. It is known as "grandpas beard" in French Polynesia. In the United States from where it is most known, it is found on the southern live oak and bald-cypress in the lowlands and savannas of the southeastern United States from southeast Virginia south to Florida and west to Texas and southern Arkansas; this plant's specific name usneoides means "resembling Usnea", it indeed superficially resembles its namesake Usnea known as beard lichen, but in fact Spanish moss is neither a moss nor a lichen. Instead, it is a flowering plant in the family Bromeliaceae which grows hanging from tree branches in full sun through partial shade; this plant has been placed in the genera Anoplophytum and Renealmia. The northern limit of its natural range is Northampton County, with colonial-era reports in southern Maryland where no populations are now known to be extant.
The primary range is in the southeastern United States, through Argentina, growing where the climate is warm enough and has a high average humidity. It has been introduced to similar locations including Hawaii and Australia; the plant consists of one or more slender stems bearing alternate thin, curved or curly scaled leaves 0.8–2.4 in long and 0.04 in broad, that grow vegetatively in chain-like fashion, forming hanging structures up to 240 in in length. The plant has no aerial roots and its brown, yellow, or grey flowers are tiny and inconspicuous, it propagates both by seed and vegetatively by fragments that blow on the wind and stick to tree limbs, or are carried by birds as nesting material. Spanish-moss is an epiphyte which absorbs nutrients and water through its leaves from the air and rainfall. While it kills the tree upon which it grows, it can become so thick that it shades the tree's leaves and lowers its growth rate. In the southern U. S. the plant seems to show a preference for growth on southern live oak and bald cypress because of these trees' high rates of foliar mineral leaching providing an abundant supply of nutrients to the plant, but it can colonize other tree species such as sweetgum, crepe-myrtles, other oaks, pines.
Spanish-moss shelters a number of creatures, including three species of bats. One species of jumping spider, has been found only on Spanish-moss. Chiggers, though assumed to infest Spanish-moss, were not present among thousands of other arthropods identified in one study. Due to its propensity for growing in subtropical humid southern locales like Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, North Carolina, extreme southern Virginia and south Texas, Alabama, the plant is associated with Southern Gothic imagery and Deep South culture. One story of the origin of Spanish moss is called "The Meanest Man Who Ever Lived"; the man's white hair grew long and got caught on trees. Spanish moss was introduced to Hawaii in the 19th century, became a popular ornamental and lei plant. On Hawai'i it is called "Pele's hair" after Pele the Hawaiian goddess; the term "Pele's hair" is used to refer to a type of filamentous volcanic glass. Spanish-moss has been used for various purposes, including building insulation, packing material, mattress stuffing, fiber.
In the early 1900s it was used commercially in the padding of car seats. In 1939 over 10,000 tons of processed Spanish-moss was produced, it is still collected today in smaller quantities for use in arts and crafts, or for beddings for flower gardens, as an ingredient in the traditional wall covering material bousillage. In some parts of Latin America and Louisiana Spanish moss is used in Nativity scenes. In the desert regions of the southwestern United States, dried Spanish-moss plants are used in the manufacture of evaporative coolers, colloquially known as swamp coolers; these are used to cool offices much less expensively than using air conditioners. A pump squirts water onto a pad made of Spanish-moss plants. A fan pulls air through the pad and into the building. Evaporation of the water on the pads serves to reduce the air temperature, thus cooling the building. Tillandsia'Maurice's Robusta' Tillandsia'Munro's Filiformis' Tillandsia'Odin's Genuina' Tillandsia'Spanish Gold' Tillandsia'Tight and Curly' Tillandsia'Nezley' Tillandsia'Kimberly' Tillandsia'Old Man's Gold' Mabberley, D.
J. 1987. The Plant Book. A Portable Dictionary of the Higher Plants. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-34060-8. Spanish Moss: Its History and Uses -- Beaufort County Library Florida Forest Plants Florida Spanish Moss: Theory - Does Spanish Moss kill trees