This section is from the book "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis. Also available from Amazon: The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Volume I.
Tradescantia Virginica. Virginian Tradescantia, or Spiderwort.
Calyx triphyllus. Petala 3. Filamenta villis articulatis. Capsula 3-locularis.
TRADESCANTIA Virginica erecta laevis, floribus congestis. Linn. Syst. Vegetab. ed. 14. Murr. p. 314. Sp. Pl. 411.
ALLIUM five moly Virginianum. Bauh. Pin. 506.
PHALANGIUM Ephemerum Virginianum Joannis Tradescant.
The soon-fading Spiderwort of Virginia, or Tradescant his Spiderwort. Park. Parad. 152. 5. t. 151. f. 4.
Under the name of Spiderwort, the old Botanists arranged many plants of very different genera: the name is said to have arisen from the supposed efficacy of some of these plants, in curing the bite of a kind of spider, called Phalangium; not the Phalangium of Linnaeus, which is known to be perfectly harmless: under this name, Parkinson minutely describes it; he mentions also, how he first obtained it.
"This Spiderwort," says our venerable author, "is of late knowledge, and for it the Christian world is indebted unto that painful, industrious searcher, John Tradescant, who first received it of a friend that brought it out of Virginia, and hath imparted hereof, as of many other things, both to me and others."
Tournefort afterwards gave it the name of Ephemerum, expressive of the short duration of its flowers, which Linnaeus changed to Tradescantia.
Though a native of Virginia, it bears the severity of our climate uninjured, and being a beautiful, as well as hardy perennial, is found in almost every garden.
Though each blossom lasts but a day, it has such a profusion in store, that it is seldom found without flowers through the whole of the summer. There are two varieties of it, the one with white the other with pale purple flowers. The most usual way of propagating it is by parting its roots in autumn to obtain varieties, we must sow its seeds.