Spiderwort (Tradescantia) is a genus of about 70 species of perennial plants in the family Commelinaceae, native to the New World from southern Canada south to northern Argentina. They are scrambling plants, growing to 30-60 cm tall, and are commonly found individually or in clumps in wooded areas and fields. The leaves are long, thin and bladelike to lanceolate, from 3-45 cm long. The flowers are white, pink or purple, with three petals and yellow stamens.
Though sometimes accounted a weed, spiderwort is cultivated for borders and also used in containers. Where it appears as a volunteer, it is often welcomed and allowed to stay.
The first species described, Virginia Spiderwort T. virginiana, is native to the eastern United States from Maine to Alabama, and Canada in southern Ontario. Virginia Spiderwort was introduced to Europe in 1629, where it is cultivated as a garden flower.
The Western Spiderwort T. occidentalis is listed as an endangered species in Canada, where the northernmost populations of the species are found at a few sites in southern Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta; it is however more common further south in the United States south to Texas and Arizona.
The Wandering Jew, native to eastern Mexico, is also a species of spiderwort. Other names used for various species include Spider-lily, Cradle-lily, Oyster-plant and Flowering Inch Plant.
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