Ball Moss Removed from Heritage Oaks

By Jill Nokes

Loving our trees! Thanks to an urban forestry grant provided through the COA’s arborist’s office, Friends of Shipe Park hired Just Trees arborists last month to remove 90% of the ball moss that was smothering the oaks surrounding the playscape, as well as the two massive heritage oaks that frame the cabin.


Ball moss is an epiphyte or “air plant” member of the bromeliad or pineapple family.  Ball moss is an organism that scarcely roots, but grows upon other plants, without being parasitic upon them, in order to be in a better position to secure light. They cling to branches and have adapted to obtain and store water and to catch drifting nutrients that cluster around their base, since they never actually touch soil.

A little ball moss does not harm a tree, but if it begins to dominate the branches, it can contribute to a gradual weakening by preventing new secondary branches and leaves to grow, thus impacting the tree’s ability to sustain itself through photosynthesis.  Combine the stress that comes with ball moss with other factors such as drought and soil compaction (from all the little feet running around the playground), and you can see how our precious oak trees were suffering.

At the next It’s My Park’s Day to be held in November, we will mulch these trees again to help them recover and get back in good shape, providing much needed shade and cover for the park.

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