Tradescantia xxxxxxx

Plant Family............ Commelinacea (Spiderwort)
Leaf Arrangement... Alternate
Bloom date............. April
Plant Height.... 2 Feet
Habitat............ Roadsides, woods edges
Flower Color... Blue
Img 1. Spiderwort

Img 2..Spiderwort

Note: Another Spiderwort species that is much taller and coarser develops and blooms later in the season. This plant is described in the Early Summer section.



Spiderwort is perennial and grows in meadows, roadsides and deciduous woods. It is shade and sun tolerant. It grows from a rhizome and forms one to three foot clumps. The foliage droops in a strange way. The flowers grow in a terminal cluster and have three rounded petals, and are various shades of blue and purple. The flowers have gold colored stamens and hairy bracts. The flowers open in the morning and closes by noon. An enzyme contained in the flower causes it to quickly decompose into a slimy gel. This occurrence gives the plant alternate names of widow's tears, Jobs tears and cow slobber. More flowers develop each day to provide a long blooming season. The Genus of Spiderwort is named for John Tradescant who was the King of England's gardener during the 1600's. The species name bracteata is Latin for "bracted". The bracts of Spiderwort are as big as the leaves. The plant, which has long grass like leaves, grows to a height of almost 3 feet. The bright blue flowers, which are attract honeybees, grow on a slender stem. The stamens have long purple hairs.

In addition to being decorative, the Spiderwort has several other uses . The flowers and plants can be eaten raw as a salad or added to stews. The flowers make a pretty and edible garnish. (Supposedly this is done in the morning before the flowers turn into goo). The sap is very thick and can provide good entertainment by pulling it out of a stem in a thin filament and making spider webs. The filaments quickly dry and are ready for use. A blue paint can be made from the flowers that is very good for decorating moccasins

Young men of the Dakota tribe sang to Spiderwort, believing the plants personified the maidens they loved. Spiderwort is very valuable for detecting radiation leaks at nuclear power facilities. If there is leakage, the Spiderwort flowers will turn pink. (Hopefully before the people also turn pink). Spiderwort grows in most of the eastern United States and as far west as Kansas.

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