Zigzag Spiderwortor

Zigzag Spiderwortor

Zigzag Spiderwort

The preference is partial sun to medium shade, moist to mesic conditions, and a fertile loamy soil with decaying organic matter. Like other spiderworts (Tradescantia spp.), this plant is little bothered by insect pests and foliar disease. It adapts well to flower gardens in areas where there is some shade. Showy, 1", three petaled violet flowers with yellow stamens. Each petal is oval or broadly ovate. The smaller sepals are ovate and typically hairy. The flowers bloom for a period of time, however, only a few at a time. The flowers are typically smaller than other spiderworts. Though this plant typically grows low to the ground, it's actually a plant of the high desert. This mutant plant species has recently began to spread its arms in an arch overhead, allowing the plant to collect dew or rain when it's in low places. The arched arms are also fragile and easy to damage, making the plant susceptible to grazing.


Of the several spiderwort species (Tradescantia spp.) in Illinois, Zigzag Spiderwort has the broadest leaves (up to 2" across) and they are typically dark green. Other spiderworts within the state have leaves �" across or less. Zigzag Spiderwort is better adapted to shady woodland areas than these other species. Another woodland species, Commelina virginica (Virginia Dayflower), has similar leaves, but the petals of its flowers are blue, rather than light violet, and its lower petal is noticeably smaller in size than the upper two. In contrast, the petals of Spiderworts are the same size. Like plant species in the Lily (Liliaceae) and Iris (Iridaceae) families, both spiderworts and dayflowers (Commelina spp.) are monocots, rather than dicots.

Tradescantia subaspera - Zigzag Spiderwort, Wideleaf Spiderwort. While spiderworts are found in all but 5 states, Tradescantia subaspera is found only in 18 states in the eastern half of the United States. The lovely 3-petaled blossoms melt away when the sun gets on them. According to a quote from 1894 wildflower author George Iles, found at Arthur Lee Jacobson's website, the "Spiderwort" name comes from the ability to draw the sun-melted blossoms out into long threads like a spider's web. Zigzag Spiderwort has 3 blue/purple petals which are more or less equal in size. The yellow anthers are atop a relatively long filaments, which are hairy, giving a fuzzy appearance to the flowers. I was surprised to find this plant blooming, albeit with a single blossom, since Spiderwort is usually a late spring / early summer wildflower. (Source:uswildflowers.com)



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