Ball Moss In San Antonio Trees

Home buyers who are unfamiliar with San Antonio’s botanical oddities are sometimes freaked out when they see tufts of curious round alien vegetation dotting the branches of our local trees.

It’s ball moss and it always prompts the same questions from mystified prospective home buyers. What is it?  Is it harmful? Does it impact on the property’s value? Should I ask the seller to remove it? If I buy the place, should I have it removed and, if so, how much will it cost?

So, here are the answers according to local experts.

First, ball moss is an interesting little plant. It attaches to anything it can set its clingy little feet into and sits around getting moisture and nutrients from the air. It’s not parasitic in that it takes nothing from its landlord other than a place to live. If you want proof, look at the utility lines around San Antonio neighborhoods where you’ll see an occasional healthy ball moss cluster residing up there. But there can be a dark side to ball moss in that a large colony of ball moss plants in a single tree can create an undesirable shading effect thereby depriving it’s host of sunlight. It takes a lot of ball most to have that effect, but it could happen.

Does ball moss lessen a home’s value?  Although extreme ball moss infestation in the surrounding trees might detract from a home’s image, it’s rare to be so bad that it’s a price or property repair negotiation issue.  Very few San Antonio real estate agents have had a home buyer ask the seller to have ball moss removed as a condition for purchasing the property. And, if it were requested, the odds are that the seller will say no.

So, should ball moss even be removed?  First, it’s costly to have it removed by a tree service and it’s not easily done by picking off the moss sprig by sprig. The moss always comes back as long as there are any seed dispersing ball moss plants residing in the neighborhood. Most San Antonio tree specialists recommend that homeowners just learn to love and live with the odd little plant, however, pruning a tree correctly will often have the side effect of reducing the amount of ball moss residing there.