This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Herbaceous tufted or creeping plants. Stem branched, fleshy, 1 to 2 feet high. Leaves entire, linear-lanceolate,sheathing, glabrous. Flowers in terminal sessile or stalked umbels. Perianth 6-parted, the 3 exterior sepaloid, and the 3 interior petaloid. Filaments bearded. An American genus, named in remembrance of Tradescant, gardener to Charles I.
1. T. Virginica, Spiderwort. - A very pretty and interesting-plant growing about a foot and a half high, with linear-lanceolate acuminate glabrous ciliate sheathing leaves and sessile bracteate umbels. Outer perianth-segments green, inner rosy-purple. Filaments densely bearded with long spreading jointed purple hairs. There are several varieties, including one with white petals and purple filaments, another with beautiful rose-coloured petals, and also a double-flowered variety.
2. T. rosea. - A similar though smaller and less hardy plant, from Carolina, with pedunculate naked umbels of rosy flowers.