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Weekly “What is it?”: Spiderworts

Spiderwort flowers

The bright green, strappy leaves and brilliant purple bloom make the spiderwort stand out on roadsides.

This week’s feature is a pretty little plant (considered a weed by most) that most people have encountered in their yards or on roadsides.  The native spiderwort (genus Tradescantia)  is a perennial flower that grows in clusters, often in moist soils.  The plant can be identified quickly by its triad of  violet petals and bright green, straplike leaves.  I know many homeowners who refuse to let them be mowed down with the lawn simply because of their brilliant color.  Known by common names as varied as “Bluejacket” or  “Snotweed” and “Cow Slobber” (due to the consistency of its sap), the plant is widespread throughout the eastern and central United States.