The Story of Spanish Moss
Spanish Moss fresh from the tree (before curing) is eaten by livestock during the winter months in much the same manner that hay is consumed. The outer bark of the strands (of a greyish color) probably contains some nourishment but not much. The fibre within this bark has no nutritive value but it serves as bulk. It is very doubtful that any animal could survive on a diet of green moss alone.
The Curing Process
Moss is grey when it comes from the tree; its color is a greyish white. It appears to be soggy or damp. In this condition it is unfit for commercial use. Only the black, hair-like strands (after being cured) are fit for commercial use. Curing is a long process. Some moss merchants or gatherers make mounds of the moss about five feet high and ten feet around. It is kept damp so as to cause the bark to decay and leave the fibre or hair-like strands free and firm. When this bark begins to peel off, the moss is either spread out or hung on the fence to dry so that it can be ginned. Other merchants or gatherers dig a pit and place the moss in it, thus hastening the decay of the outer coating or bark. It is then treated the same as the moss cured by the mound method before it is ready for ginning. The curing process by either method requires from three to four months. The curing of moss reduces the weight by approximately 75 per cent.
The bark or outer coating of the moss rescued in the curing and ginning is a very valuable by-product used as a mulch along with ordinary soil.
The waste matter in rough and cured moss will vary from 35 per cent to 75 per cent, and consists mainly of earth, sticks or twigs, dust, dried bark or husk, leaves and weak fibre. Owing to this waste matter almost every handling of rough moss entails a loss in weight. In recent years this waste after being well rotted from 5 to 8 years is useful as a mulch around azaleas, rose bushes, and other kinds of horticultural plants.
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