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Tradescantia virginiana - L.

Common Name Spiderwort, Virginia spiderwort
Family Commelinaceae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woods, scrub, meadows and roadsides[43, 187].
Range Eastern N. America - Connecticut to Wisconsin, south to Georgia and Tennessee.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Tradescantia virginiana Spiderwort, Virginia spiderwort

Tradescantia virginiana Spiderwort, Virginia spiderwort


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Bloom Color: Blue, Pink, Purple, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Late spring, Mid summer. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Tradescantia virginiana is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in flower from June to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs). The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


T. virginica.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Shoots
Edible Uses:

Leaves - raw or cooked[61, 103, 105, 213, 257]. The very young shoots and leaves can be chopped and added to salads or cooked as a potherb[183]. Flowers - raw. They make an attractive edible garnish[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Kidney  Laxative  Poultice  Women's complaints

The roots are laxative[222]. They are also used as a tea in the treatment of kidney and stomach ailments and women's complaints[222, 257]. A poultice of the leaves is applied to stings, insect bites and cancers[222, 257].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Ground cover, Woodland garden. An easily grown plant[233], it thrives in any good rather moist soil[1, 111]. Succeeds in dry soils[188]. Succeeds in dappled woodland shade[88, 111] or in full sun[111]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[1]. Plants often self-sow in British gardens[1]. A very variable species, there are a number of named forms selected for their ornamental value[1]. Plants in this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. Plants are self-sterile, at least two genetically distinct plants (and not divisions from the same plant) must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant, Suitable for cut flowers, Extended bloom season in Zones 9A and above, Attractive flowers or blooms. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a runner spreading indefinitely by rhizomes or stolons [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn[111]. Cuttings of young shoots, July in a frame. They root easily and quickly.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

gbrust   Wed Apr 4 2007

Has anyone ever looked at this plant as a dye? This plant grows alomst invasively in my lawn. When the flower has finished it's short life, and receded back into the pod/bud, if the bud is squeezed, a purple/blue fluid is released that stains the fingers. Anyone else seen this?

David Nicholls   Sun Oct 14 2007

The book "The illustrated Herb Encyclopedia" by Kathi Keville (1991) lists some other uses for this plant: Scientists use it to detect small amounts of radiation, chemical mutagens, auto exaust, sulpher dioxides & pesticides. Its, blue cells turn pink after exposure. It's been used in practical applications. It is one of the most effective plants at absorbing formaldhyde caused by poor ventilation in buildings. I wonder what the plant tastes like, presumably bland since noone ever mentions flavour.

David Nicholls   Thu Feb 7 2008

Name changed (?) According to the book Botanica: "The Tradescantia Andersonia Group of hybrids covers a range of plants formerly listed under T X andersonia or T virginia". I've tried the leaves of a "T. andersonia" assuming it is virginiana(by that name unavailable in New Zealand),tastes more like cucumber than anything else I can think of.

david   Thu Feb 7 2008

(addition to above message) It seems the name Tradescantia virginiana was in the past wrongly given to the hybrids commonly available in nurseries, it should only apply to a non hybrid wildly occuring plant. Hybrids probably unwise to experiment with from what I can gather.

Kelley Wilkinson   Sat Aug 16 2008

Eat The Weeds Green Dean talks about Tradescantia and shows how to prepare it.

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