Thursday, March 24, 2016

Family | Commelinaceae


Tradescantia, (spiderwort) are herbaceous perennials. Often, considered a weed, spiderwort is cultivated for borders and used in containers. Quite often it is used for a foliage accent  or ground cover. The leaves are usually elongated and lance shaped and the plants trail or climb. The flowers can be white, pink, or purple, but are most commonly bright blue.

Lady in a Boat

Tradescantia pallida is a species of spiderwort more commonly known as wandering jew, a name it shares with the closely related species,  Tradescantia fluminensis and Tradescantia zebrina

Other common names include lady-in-a-boat (because the sweet pink flower sits in the leaf-shaped boat), purple secretia, purple heart, and purple queen. It is native to the Gulf Coast region of eastern Mexico.

Edward Palmer was the first European to observe and assign a Latin name to the type specimen near Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas in 1907. He honored the father and son team of botanists, John Tradescant, the elder (c 1570-1638) and John Tradescant, the younger.  The Tradescants were botanists to Charles I (1600 – 1649).

Cobweb Spiderwort

The signage was excellent.
The sun was brilliant.
Observing the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association WaterWise Exhibit at The Dallas Arboretum I found a spiderwort, (Tradescantia sillamontana), that I have never grown. The exhibit is a demonstration garden, well labeled, with low water requiring plants. The cobweb spiderwort appears to have a trailing growth habit and a silver/white appearance. It has a pink flower. It is a water-wise plant. I have not grown it myself but I would like to try it if it is available in the nurseries.


Commelina, (dayflower) The Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus named the genus after the Dutch, Commelijn family of botanists.
Beavers Bend, Oklahoma

Chart 1: Commelinaceae endemic to Texas and surrounding areas
Tinantia anomala (Torr.) C.B. Clarke False dayflower, Widows tears
Tradescantia edwardsiana Tharp Plateau spiderwort, Edward's spiderwort
Tradescantia gigantea Rose Giant spiderwort
Tradescantia humilis Rose Texas spiderwort
Tradescantia subacaulis Bush Stemless spiderwort

Grassroots Horticulture