podster's Journal: Spiderwort Tradescantia roadsides / flower beds

  • Member: podster
  • Journal: Default
  • Category: Wildflowers and Weeds of east Texas
  • Status: Unknown

Initial Notes:

Love these carefree springtime bloomers.
This is a conspicuous roadside prairie wildflower with many common names - the officially recognized English language name is "bluejacket", a name your author has never heard anyone use. In the American Midwest it's usually called spiderwort, but the backwoods common name is snotweed; hardly in keeping with its beautiful blue flowers.
Spiderwort is a common perennial prairie forb, with typical three-part monocot flowers. Spiderworts often line roadsides on June mornings in northwest Indiana's sand country. The individual flowers bloom for just a single day and generally wilt in the midday sun. There are many flowers in a flower head and their display lasts for at least two weeks.

Spiderworts are excellent for the sand garden, with attractive glaucous foliage and a long flowering season. Spiderworts grow best in sand, but any well drained soil will work. The plants seem to flower well when they get partial shade part of the day. Because their flowers are most attractive early in the morning, consider planting them where they'll get some morning sun, and where you can enjoy them while you're having your morning coffee.

Many color variations exist, including indigo, royal blue, violet and pink-rose as well as the white flowers shown here [click image for larger view]. Variegated forms are sometimes observed, and "poppy red" individuals have been reported. However, regardless of petal color, the characteristic stamen hairs are blue. The variation in petal color are said to persist in cultivation. With their fibrous root system, they are easy to transplant and are carefree.

Tradescantia has been used by herbalists for kidney ailments, women's problems and insanity. But Tradescantia plants have an amazing application that may remind older readers of the 1960's play The Effect of Gamma Radiation on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds. The stamen hairs of Tradescantia plants are known to be especially sensitive to radiation, and have therefore found applications in nuclear research, including zero-gravity experiments. We've provided some links at the bottom of this page for those interested in finding out more about spiderworts in space. Some authorities state that the blue stamen hairs (visible in the photograph above) turn pink in the presence of even low levels of radiation - gardeners near nuclear power plants might want to try out nature's Geiger counter.

The Spiderwort is a natural radiation detector which may hold a fragment of promise in further research in the deactivation of radiation.


Spiderwort detects radiation that conventional instruments don't.
There is experimental evidence from an antinuclear group in Japan that a certain species of Spiderwort plant shows effects of radiation exposure when the radiation is not detectable by any instruments. This indicates that biologically sensitive is much greater than currently assumed or else that some types of radiation which are capable of biological effects exist which cannot be detected by electronic means and are not allowed for conventional theory.


Spiderwort flower
The stamens of the Spiderwort flower are usually blue or blue-purple. In the presence of radiation, however, the stamens turn pink. Common Spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata) Found throughout all but the extreme northern counties of North Dakota, common Spiderwort is a striking plant. Elsewhere, the species ranges from Montana to Kansas eastward to Michigan and Indiana.
This is an odd-shaped perennial monocot. Monocots, among other characteristics, have woody fibers generally throughout the stem, whereas in a much larger class of plants, the dicots, the fibers are arranged in a ring around the pith. Flowers of common Spiderwort are found in clusters of 5-15 atop stems that have only a few very narrow leaves up to a foot long. Two leaf-like bracts accompany each flower cluster. The light blue to deep lavender flowers are three petalled, and nearly an inch wide. When viewed from above, the whole plant vaguely resembles a large "spider", with the flower cluster forming the "body" and the leaves and bracts forming the "legs."

Common Spiderwort likes sandy soils and seems to be most abundant where grazing is light to moderate. Young foliage of some spiderworts is occasionally mentioned as being useful for edible greens and potherbs.

This plant is a member of the largely tropical Spiderwort family (Commelinaceae), the name dedicated to a family of seventeenth century Dutch botanists named Commelin. The generic name was dedicated to John Tradescant, gardener to Charles I of England. The specific epithet
bracteata means "bracted" in botanical Latin. The plant was described for science in 1898 by botanist and curator of the New York Botanical Garden John Small(1869-1938).


1. In health related issues, would the Spiderwort plant be a good candidate for a supplement in radiation related illness or treatment ( example Spirulina)?
2. Further experiments are needed to determine if the effect of radiation is an effect that just shows the effect of radiation, or if it actually absorbs it. This could be crucial to any further consideration to using the Spiderwort plant as more than a means to detect radiation.

Entries and Updates

  Mar 16, 2007  

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  Mar 16, 2007  
and another type...

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  Apr 2, 2007  
Most of the wild spiderwort have coarser leaves like this plant...

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  Apr 2, 2007  
This one is growing in amongst them. It is a pale 'anemic' green with delicate foliage and a ale blue bloom.

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