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Ohio Spiderwort

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Species

Common Name Ohio Spiderwort

Latin Name: Tradescantia ohiensis

[Pronounced: "trad-ess-CANT-she-ah oh-hi-EN-sis"]

Type of Plant: Prairie Forb ("wildflower")


Identification Helps: Once seen, Ohio Spiderwort is easy to identify. The three, large blue-purple petals are showy. The flower is open generally during the morning. But by mid-day the petals collapse and the prominent color does not reappear until new flowers open the next morning. The species is similar to garden spiderworts.


Preferred Growing Conditions in the Wild: Ohio Spiderwort grows almost exclusively in light silty or sandy soils, often on slopes.


Preferred Soils: The species grows best in light, well-drained soils.


Seasons of Growth and Bloom: The species blooms from late May through early July, with showy displays in June on ideal sandy sites. As prairie grasses begin to lengthen in June and July, they overtake the spiderwort plants, which simply wilt, dry up, and disappear until the following spring.


Natural Distribution in Ohio: Ohio Spiderwort grows frequently in sandy and well-drained prairies in all Ohio prairie regions, across the state.


Description and General Information: Spiderwort is one of the first showy prairie flowers to bloom, starting as early as late May. It quickly shoots up above the low prairie grass leaves, gaining full access to the sun. But its active life is short, fading quickly with the onset of hot summer temperatures. By August, the plant can be very difficult to discover, as its above-ground vegetation has dried and faded.


If soils are not too wet or heavy, the plant makes a wonderful prairie garden plant. After it matures, it can be easily divided.


The plant's specific epithet (the last part of the scientific name), ohiensis, refers to the fact that the species was first discovered in Ohio. It grows in prairies across the entire Midwest. It seldom or never grows naturally in non-prairie areas, so if the plant is discovered in the wild, it is a component of an original local prairie.