Thursday, February 16, 2012


 Spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.)

Isn't the spiderwort above just beautiful? We bought it nearly two years ago at the Natural Gardener in Austin in celebration of our fourth anniversary. It was labeled spiderwort 'Purple'. The first year in the back yard of our Wildscape, it just piddled and barely bloomed. I really thought the drought would finished it off. Nope! This spring, it's just grown and grown and GROWN. Then I happened to notice a spiderwort child coming up in a pathway a good 3 or 4 feet away from the parent plant. So I dug it up and planted it a foot and a half away from mom.

Spiderwort child
Another one!
Yesterday, when I was outside in the front yard, pruning salvias, I just happened to notice what looked to be a spiderwort child hiding behind the Texas betony and salvia. How'd a seed get to the front yard, eh? Awhile ago, I dug it up (they've got tough taproot) and transplanted it to another bed in our back yard.

I looked around some for information on spiderworts, which are considered to be herbs. Ronald H. Livingston wrote a lengthy and interesting piece, "Wildflowers: Spiderworts." Delena Tull and George Oxford Miller in Wildflowers, Trees and Shrubs of Texas state that the leaves and stems (but not the roots) are edible, either fresh or cooked. In Wildflowers of Texas, Geyata Ajilvsgi writes that the genus name Tradescantia honors "John Tradescant, who served as gardener to Charles I of England. Tradescant started plants from seed sent to him from America, and, today spiderwort is still commonly cultivated in English gardens."

Spiderworts are perennials and members of the dayflower family (Commelinaceae). So they're related to dayflowers. "If they are picked, the petals quickly become pulpy or liquid," state Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller in Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide. "Hence, they are sometimes known as Job's tears or widow's tears."

New location
I'll be curious to watch and see how fast these plants reproduce and spread. I may be offering free spiderworts plants here in a few years. Stay tuned!


More photos of my spiderwort

Mother with children


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