Spiderwort (Tradescantia) is a perennial wildflower in the Commelinaceae family that is a genus of 85 species native to the Americas, but naturalized in many places around the world.

It is edible, medicinal and grows wild and plentiful in these parts. Because it so attractive other regions cultivate it as an enduring garden friend. While in still other regions and spaces it is considered an invasive nuisance.

As a medicinal plant:

“Externally, this plant can be used as a poultice to help heal wounds and hemorrhoids. Internally the leaves and roots are a valuable alternative medicine used by medical herbalists for their patients as an antidiarrheal, analgesic, anthelmintic, antiperiodic, astringent, diaphoretic, emetic, emmenagogue, expectorant, sedative, tonic, vermifuge, and vulnerary. Also, drinking spiderwort tea is supposed to be a good for increasing breast milk (Galactagogue).” Spiderwort: Pictures, Flowers, Leaves & Identification | Tradescantia virginiana

More on the medicinal value:

“Given the prevalence of Tradescantia plants worldwide, it is no surprise that many cultures (particularly in South America and Asia) have adapted the use of several species in traditional medicine. Extracts, decoctions and poultices of these plants are used to treat a wide range of diseases and ailments; including cancer, diabetes, respiratory disease, hypertension, gonorrhoea, tuberculosis, other microbial infections, and allergies (Andrade-Cetto and Heinrich, 2005, Dash et al., 2017, Estrada-Muñiz et al., 2012, García-Varela et al., 2015, Leonti et al., 2001, Tene et al., 2007).” Science Direct: The biological activities of the Spiderworts

Of interesting note:

“The genus’s many species are of interest to cytogenetics because of evolutionary changes in the structure and number of their chromosomes.[8] They have also been used as bioindicators for the detection of environmental mutagens.[9] Tradescantia – Wikipedia

From Dr. Merriwether of Foraging Texas:

“I love this plant because it is nutritious and can be found in many parts of Texas area almost all year long. Spiderworts seem to prefer shady, sandy soil along streams and ponds but can appear anywhere it’s moist, even low spots in sunny fields. They grow upright on pencil-thick stems, too about the height of two feet. They’ll have a cluster of a few opened flowers and many unopened flower buds.

“Each flower opens in the morning and rarely lasts beyond noon. New flowers appear each morning, all spring, summer, and fall, even lasting into the winter if the weather is mild enough. The leaves are long, tough, slightly rough, with a parallel venation. Looking closely at the leaves, you’ll notice they clasp/wrap around the stem with a bit of the leaf running down the stem. Hard frosts will kill it back to the ground but it’ll be back and ready to eat in about two months.

“All parts of the plant are edible but due to the overall toughness of the plant, I generally only eat the flowers and flower buds. The sap of these plants is very mucilaginous, similar to okra and aloe vera. Rubbed on minor (1st degree) burns this sap brings relief. Also like okra, it can be used to thicken stews, just chop up the stem really fine. The longer the bits of stem are simmered the softer they’ll become.”

Foraging Texas: Spiderwort

Merriwether educating us at a Plant Walk at Caddo Mounds April, 2021

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