Prairie Spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis)

Very similar to Tradescantia ohiensis (Ohio Spiderwort) – in its native environment, it is found further west.

Perennial reaching 1m high with blue to purple three-petaled flowers with yellow stamens.  Leaves are long and thin – grass-like. Clump-forming and self-seeds readily.  A really ornamental plant.  Useful as ground cover in an open forest garden situation as it can tolerate some shade. In the wild it is found in woods and meadows.

The flowers are a good attractant for bees and butterflies.

The Tradescantia species has been used as an edible plant by various Native American tribes who gathered it from the wild.  Stems can be harvested before the plant starts to flower (they become tough after this point).  Leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season.  Both can be eaten raw or cooked.  Flowers are also edible and appear around midsummer for a couple of months – an attractive addition to salads and summer drinks.

Tradescantia has also been used medicinally and used as a tea is thought to useful in the treatment of kidney and stomach ailments, and women’s health.  A poultice of the leaves can be applied to stings and insect bites.

Always seek professional advice before using a herb medicinally



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