Spiderwort indiana dunes

Family:     Commelinaceae (Spiderwort family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     15-150 cm (.5-4 ft)

Blooming: April - July


Common Spiderwort

Tradescantia ohiensis  Raf.

Stem: smooth and sometimes waxy-like.

Flowers: clusters of numerous flowers with smooth gray-green, hairy sepals which form at the top of the plant in late spring. The flowers are 3-parted with a blue to violet color rarely white.  Individual flowers can get up to 3.8 cm (1.5 in) wide and open for only one day. However, their blooming period lasts several months. Seeming to hold the flower up are two long bracts that look like leaves erect when in flower and flaccid when in seed.

Leaves: Gray-green waxy grass-like leaves. They can grow to 38 cm (15 in) long and 2.5 cm (1 in) wide. The leaves are somewhat succulent with clear sap. They clasp the stem at the base. When young, leaves can be long and hairy then becoming smooth with age, alternating along the stem. Leaf arrangement is alternate

Sun: Full to part sun

Ideal Conditions: dry to moist soil in open to partially-shaded conditions

Tradescantia ohioensis indiana dunes
spiderwort namestnik indiana dunes

Comments: Unlike the other spiderworts of Northwest Indiana, common spiderworts lack hair on their pedicels and sepals.  

Etymology: The genus is named in honor of the English botanist, John Tradescant the Elder.

photo by Nathanael Pilla

photo by Scott Namestnik

photo by Nathanael Pilla


Herbivory by deer can be a problem with this plant.  The texture of the foliage adds almost a grass-like appearance with the addition of a blueish-violet bloom. 

Spiderwort indiana dunes

photo by Nathanael Pilla

Species Present and Native