prairie spiderwort

(Tradescantia occidentalis var. occidentalis)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

prairie spiderwort

NatureServe

N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

UPL - Obligate upland

Midwest

UPL - Obligate upland

Northcentral & Northeast

UPL - Obligate upland

Nativity

Native

Photo by Kirk Neslon
Occurrence

 

 
Habitat

Dry or moderate moisture. Prairies, meadows, roadsides. Full sun.

 
Flowering

June to July

     
Flower Color

Bright blue to rose or magenta

     
Height

8 to 24

     

Identification

This is a 16 to 40 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on 1 to many stems from thick, fleshy, fibrous roots.

The stems are erect or ascending, often branched, usually hairless, green, and covered with a whitish, waxy or powdery film (glaucous). There are 2 to 6 nodes on the stem and up to 10 between nodes.

The leaves are alternate, linear, 3½ to 12 long, and 1 16 to ½ wide but usually less than wide. They are hairless, bright green, glaucous, and rolled inward, not keeled. The upper leaves are as narrow or narrower than the part of the leaf that surrounds the stem when it is opened and flattened. The base of the leaf sheaths the stem. The tip tapers to a point with concave sides along the tip. The margins are untoothed and rolled inward toward the upper side.

The inflorescence is a tight, umbrella-like cluster of up to 25 flowers arising from the same point. They appear at the end of the stem, at the ends of branches, and often on long stalks rising from the leaf axils. A pair of bracts below the inflorescence are similar to the leaves and about the same size, 2 to 8 long.

The flowers are 1 to 1½ wide. They are on to 1 long stalks which droop when in bud, becoming erect when the flower opens. The flower stalks and sepals are sparsely hairy with minute, glandular hairs, the hairs no more than 1 64 (0.5 mm) long. The sepals may have a tuft of hairs at the tip. The 3 petals are bright blue to rose or magenta and broadly egg-shaped. There are 6 stamens with bright yellow anthers. The petals last only one day, opening in the morning then turning to jelly in the mid-day heat. The central flowers bloom first. There is no floral scent.

The fruit is a papery, nearly round to oblong capsule ¼ or less in diameter with 2 to 6 seeds.

 
Similar
Species

Bracted spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata) stems are usually unbranched and bright green. The leaves are bright green and keeled, not rolled inward. Neither the stems nor the leaves are glaucous. The bracts are 2 to 12 long, often longer and wider than the leaves. The sepals and flower stalks are densely hairy with both long and short hairs.

Ohio spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) is a taller plant, 16 to 40 tall at maturity. The stems are glaucous. The leaves are glaucous and flat, not rolled inward. The bracts are 2 to 8 long and no wider than the leaves. The sepals and flower stalks are usually hairless.


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28.

Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Commelinaceae (spiderwort)

 

Subfamily:

Commelinoideae

 

Tribe:

Tradescantieae

 

Subtribe:

Tradescantiinae

 
Synonyms

Tradescantia occidentalis var. melanthera

Tradescantia occidentalis var. typica

 
Common
Names

prairie spiderwort

western spiderwort


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

axil

The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.

 

bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk or flower cluster.

 

glandular hairs

Hairs spread over aerial vegetation that secrete essential oils. The oils act to protect against herbivores and pathogens or, when on a flower part, attract pollinators. The hairs have a sticky or oily feel.

 

glaucous

Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.

 

keeled

Folded, as in a grass blade, or with a raised ridge, as in a grass sheath; like the keel of a boat.

 

linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

node

The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.

 

sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

sheath

The lower part of the leaf that surrounds the stem.

       

Visitor Photos

   
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Kirk Neslon


Prairie spiderwort at Lebanon Hills Regional Park. Prolific along the road leading in to the Visitors Center.

  prairie spiderwort    
       

Prairie spiderwort at Crosby Farm Regional Park

  prairie spiderwort    
       

Flower

  prairie spiderwort    
       

Plant and flower

  prairie spiderwort    

Wayne Rasmussen


  prairie spiderwort    

       
       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   

Plant

  prairie spiderwort   prairie spiderwort
       
  prairie spiderwort    
       

Inflorescence

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Flower

  prairie spiderwort   prairie spiderwort
       
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Leaves

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Sepals

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Buds

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slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
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Other Videos

 
  Minnesota Native Plant - Western Spiderwort (Tradescantia Occidentalis var. Occidentalis)
MNNativePlants
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 24, 2013

This video shows the Western Spiderwort (Tradescantia Occidentalis var. Occidentalis). A beautiful Minnesota native plant that looks great in the morning throughout June and July.

 
     
  Honeybees on Spiderwort
MrILoveTheAnts
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 2, 2014

The Western Spiderwort, which is also native to the east go figure started flowering and honeybees started collecting the pollen. The species name is Tradescantia occidentalis.

 
     
  Spiderwort Time-lapse
Reva McKinney
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 25, 2013

Testing out the time-lapse feature on my spiderwort plant in my garden. The blooms open and close in the mornin' and evenin'. :)

All rights to the music are reserved by the artist.

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
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Kirk Nelson
6/25/2017

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Prolific along the road leading in to the Visitors Center

prairie spiderwort


Kirk Nelson
6/8/2017

Location: Crosby Farm Regional Park

prairie spiderwort


Wayne Rasmussen
6/9/2016

Location: Joy Park & Preserve in Maplewood, MN

prairie spiderwort


Kirk Nelson
5/29/2016

Location: Crosby Farm Regional Park, St.Paul, Ramsey County

prairie spiderwort


     
     
 

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