The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Spiderwort

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SPIDERWORT, any plant of the genus Tradescantia, or (by extension) of the family Commelinacaæ. The spiderworts are perennial, succulent, somewhat mucilaginous herbs, having linear or lanceolate leaves and showy reddish or blue flowers in umbel-like cymes, subtended by bracts. Tradescantia virginiana is a species native to the Middle Atlantic States, but often found farther north in cultivation or escaped from gardens. It has stems often in clusters and about a foot high; the leaves very narrow, either glabrous or slightly pubescent, as long as the stem and of a bright green color. The large corollas of three petals are sky-blue, the villous pedicels being declined until in bloom. The sepals are broad and herbaceous. The anthers are large, crescent-shaped and golden, and the filaments are heavily bearded. A South American spiderwort, T. fluminensis, is better known under the title of Wandering Jew. It has similar flowers and broadly lanceolate leaves and is very easily propagated by cuttings, growing often in water only.