Blue Spiderwort - Ohio Spiderwort - Blue Jacket
Smooth Spiderwort
Tradescantia ohiensis Rafinesque
Commelinaceae (Spiderwort) Family

The plant goes by numerous names including Smooth Spiderwort, Spider Lily, Cradle Lily, Oyster Plant, Flowering Inch Plant and Blue Jacket.

Plant is an upright, smooth to hairy perennial. It is not unusual for the plants to reach heights of two feet or more. Preferred habitat is woods, prairies, waste areas and roadsides. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.

Leaves are upwards to 15 inches long; slender, pointed and folded lengthwise; alternate on the stem; no lobes and no teeth; base of leaf sheaths the stem.

Flowers are about two inches wide; three petals; three sepals; hairy, green; six stamens that are also hairy; symmetrical in shape; bisexual and in terminal clusters subtended by bracts that are similar to the stem leaves; three sepals, smooth to hairy at the margins; three petals that are blue in color, or may be rose or pink; six stamens. Flowers occur throughout spring and summer. Flowers open only in the morning. In afternoons the petals wilt and turn to a jelly-like fluid.

Fruit is a capsule..

This is a showy plant and is easily transplanted to the domestic flower plot. Spiderwort was so named because the angular leaf arrangement suggests a squatting spider. The hairy stamens consist of a row of thin-walled cells that form a chain. They are a favorite subject for microscopic examination in biology classes because the flowing cytoplasm and nucleus can be seen easily.

All members of the Spiderwort are used extensively in scientific research to detect radiation fallout or exposure.

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