Prairie Spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.)

Blue flowers at the top of a spindly green plant.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman

Prairie Home

Introduction

Smooth, bluish green, spindly plants to 3' tall, with long pointed, alternate leaves. The leaves are up to 1' long and less than 1" wide. Flowers of prairie spiderwort are found in clusters atop stems that have only a few very narrow leaves. Two leaf-like bracts accompany each flower cluster. The purple flowers are three petalled, and nearly an inch wide.

When viewed from above, the whole plant vaguely resembles a large "spider," with the flower cluster forming the "body" and the leaves and bracts forming the "legs."

Prairie spiderwort likes sandy soils and seems to be most abundant where grazing is light to moderate. Young foliage of some spiderworts is occasionally mentioned as being useful for edible greens and potherbs, but experts should be consulted before consuming any wild plant.

The beautiful spiderwort flowers last for just a single day, before decaying into a sticky, liquified mass. As a result, they do not make good cut flowers and should be left for others to enjoy.

Blooms: June through August

Find It

Hastings River Flats Park
Coldwater Spring
Cenaiko Lake (East Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park)
Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area

Want to Help Us Better Understand the Park?

See our iNaturalist project, "The Life of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area" and contribute to it by downloading the iNaturalist app and uploading your sightings of this species, and others, to the project. You can also upload your sightings from your computer.

Last updated: March 5, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101

Phone:

(651) 293-0200
This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center. Please leave a voicemail if we miss your call and expect a return call within 1 day, often sooner.

Contact Us