Virginia Spiderwort – Tradescantia virginiana

Virginia Spiderwort
Virginia Spiderwort

This native of woodland edges of the eastern woodlands has blue violet flowers with 3 petals. Its other common names include Spiderlily, Widow’s Tears, and Cow Slobber. If you break a tip off of a leaf, then take some of the sap on your finger, when touched by another finger and slowly pulled away it will form a long slender string. This string resembles a spider’s silk that they use to make their web. It is also the reason for the last common name of Cow Slobber!

The root tea was oat one time used for a laxative, for female kidney disorders, and for stomch disorders. For insect bites, stings, and to bind wounds crush the leaves, stems and flowers to use as a poultice. The Native Americans also used it to poultice cancers.

The Dakota Indians of the North American west used to carry spiderwort as a love talisman, to attract love.

Some people have a reaction to the plant. It can cause minor skin irritations due to clusters of needlelike crystals called raphides in the internal tissues.

It was the Virginia Native Plant Society 2008 Wildflower of the Year. Gardeners should not collect Virginia spiderwort in the wild and should be certain that all native plants purchased for home gardens are nursery propagated, not wild collected.

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