Saturday, June 28, 2014

Zigzag Spiderwort - Tradescantia subaspera

Common spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) is so common in Florida that we sometimes forget our state hosts other species.  Zigzag spiderwort (T. subaspera) is one of those. Zigzag spiderwort is found in Florida only in the central Panhandle, in a four-county area around Torreya State Park and Apalachicola National Forest.  It also occurs to our north, across much of the Midwest to the Northeast. In nature, this spiderwort occurs in partial to nearly full shade beneath the understory of upland deciduous woodlands.
Zigzag spiderwort is a perennial herbaceous species that dies back to the ground each winter and reemerges in spring.  Mature plants are a bit lanky and stand 12-18 inches tall by early summer.  Although it looks a lot like common spiderwort, one distinct difference is in the foliage. Zigzag spiderwort's leaves are much broader at the point of attachment to the stem than they are elsewhere. In common spiderwort, the leaves are pretty much uniformly the same width throughout.
The flowers of zigzag spiderwort are similarly shaped to common spiderwort, but tend to be much smaller in size.  In all of the plants I have seen, they are light blue in color and there does not seem to be the variability in shades of blue present in common spiderwort.
Although zigzag spiderwort is tough and adaptable to a wide variety of growing conditions (provided it is not planted in full sun), it is not currently propagated by anyone associated with the Florida Association of Native Nurseries (FANN) and it seems unlikely to be anytime soon. This would be an interesting addition to a shade garden as so few wildflowers bloom in summer in shady settings.

1 comment:

  1. I do like this one; I have seen it in shady woodlands in Georgia. I'm sorry that the rest of the spiderworts get a bad rap because one species (ohiensis) is such a prolific spreader. Thanks for profiling this one.


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