Tradescantia virginiana Wandering Jew; Widow's Tears; Spiderwort

Family: Commelinaceae

Origin: Eastern USA

This is the name used for a group of closely-related species from N America. By whatever name, these scrambling, herbaceous perennials are very attractive, with long, narrow, slightly fleshy leaves and twinned, coiled flower heads which unfurl as the flowers open, rather in the manner of an uncoiling fern frond. The many flowers are deep violet, and the flower buds are veined and tinged purple; red, blue, pink and white forms are also known, as are double-flowered ones.

Introduced by 1629.

The name Tradescantia commemorates one of the most famous father and son families in botany – John Tradescant Senior (died 1638), who travelled to north Russia in 1618 and Algiers in 1620, and John Tradescant Junior (1608-1662), who travelled in Virginia in 1654; he succeeded his father as gardener to Charles I.

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