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Tradescantia occidentalis

This is a native species.

Tradescantia occidentalis
Tradescantia occidentalis (Spiderwort)
Commelinaceae (Spiderwort Family)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Forest and grassland openings.  Summer, fall.
Upper Calf Creek Trail, Escalante/Grand Staircase National Monument, Utah, October 23, 2007.

Tradescantia occidentalis typically grows to about 14 inches tall.  Leaves are long and narrow; flowers are commonly over an inch across and in clusters.  The plant enjoys sunny, sandy, hot, open areas. 

Tradescantia occidentalis is found in all the Four Corners states but not on the West Slope of Colorado.  It is found in all Rocky Mountain states, and the very similar T. Ohiensis and T. virginiana are found in all central and eastern states.  It is thus a well known genus.

This genus was named by Linnaeus for John Tradescant, traveler and gardener, considered to be the founder of British gardening.  (More biographical information about Tradescant.) This species was first named Tradescantia virginiana variety occidentalis by Britton in 1896 and was renamed T. occidentalis just three years later by Smyth.

"Spiderwort", meaning "spider plant", is an apt common name as the above photograph indicates. The long arching leaves are very spider-like. 

 

Tradescantia occidentalis

Tradescantia occidentalis

Tradescantia occidentalis (Spiderwort)
Commelinaceae (Spiderwort Family)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Forest and grassland openings.  Summer, fall.
Upper Calf Creek Trail, Escalante/Grand Staircase National Monument, Utah, October 23, 2007 and Comb Ridge, Utah, May 15, 2013.

Tradescantia flowers get rave reviews, especially after folks look at them close-up with a hand lens.  Purple hairs decorate the purple filaments which support bright yellow anthers.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Tradescantia occidentalis