In the great estate of Charles 1 in England there was a man named John Tradescant, the elder, who was in charge of all the king's gardens. He knew many flowers, but evidently he never saw a certain delicate blue-silk spiderwort flower opening in the dewy light of early morning. Bui it was Tradescant's name which Linnaeus long ago gave to the American spiderwort.
Tradescantia ohiensis Raf.
May - June Roadsides, woods.
Today, when May comes, there is spiderwort in bloom in hilly woods and open hillslopes and along roads. When June comes to Illinois roadsides, the moist ditch just below railroad embankments is a water-blue band of sky color in the morning, bu1 by noon the spiderwort flowers have faded away into a drop of purple ink and the flower stems curl down while the seeds form. Next morning more buds have opened and again the roadside is bordered with a mass of blue.
Spiderwort is a delicate flower of the sun. It needs sunshine, yet sunlight itself is too strong for those thin silk petals and they completely disintegrate and liquify by the middle of the day. sooner than that in extremely hot weather. The flowers are three-petaled with six long-furred stamens of deep purple-blue topped with bright yellow-orange, puffy anthers. The pistil i- slim, thready and three-forked. The leaves spring from the joint- and are tapering, narrow, and alternate on the stem.
The Virginia spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) is similar to the above, but has hairy leaves and larger flowers. Found throughout the state, Tradescantia subaspera has broader, hairy leaves. It is a woodland plant which is found in the southern half of the state.