Tradescantia ohiensis (Ohio Spiderwort)
|Also known as:||Bluejacket|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist prairie, meadows, woodland edges|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||18 to 40 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Racemes of up to 20 flowers form at the top of the stem and at the tips of branches. Flowers are 1 to 1½ inches across, blue to rose or even white with 3 egg shaped petals. Six deep blue stamens with long plume-like hairs and bright yellow tips surround a single slender blue style in the center. Only 1 to a few flowers in a cluster are open at a time.
Sepals are oval, mostly hairless, tapered at both ends, offset the petals and are about half the petal length. Two long leaf-like bracts, about as wide as the leaves, cup the flower cluster at their base. Flower stalks are ½ to 1 inch long, smooth, and are erect while flowers bloom but lay back down while seed is set.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are long and grass-like, 8-15 inches and less than ¾ inch wide. Mostly flat but for a grooved mid vein, the base of the leaf wraps around the stem. Stems and leaves are smooth, often with a waxy surface, clumps have multiple stems with branching in the upper plant.
Of Minnesota's 3 native Spiderworts, Ohio Spiderwort is the more eastern species and common only in our most SE counties. Though it tolerates of a wide range of soils and conditions it prefers moister soils than the other 2 species and can be very showy in the home landscape. While all 3 Spiderworts look very similar at first glance, T. ohiensis is the tallest of the 3 and can otherwise be distinguished from the others by its over all lack of any hairs, especially on the sepals in the flower cluster, and the flatter, floppier leaves. Spiderwort varieties in the garden industry can look very similar to wild T. ohiensis in size and shape. They come in a wide range of deep blues and pinks, bicolors or pure white, are typically hybrids of T. ohiensis, T. virginana and T. subspera, and often have very hairy sepals.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in a private garden in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?