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Spiderwort Widows or Jobs Tears


Spiderwort; Widow's or Job's Tears (Tradescantia Virginiana) Spiderwort family
Flowers - Purplish blue, rarely white, showy, ephemeral, 1 to 2 in. broad; usually several flowers, but more drooping buds, clustered and seated between long blade-like bracts at end of stem. Calyx of 3 sepals, much longer than capsule. Corolla of 3 regular petals; 6 fertile stamens, bearded; anthers orange; 1 pistil. Stem: 8 in. to 3 ft. tall, fleshy, erect, mucilaginous, leafy. Leaves: Opposite, long, blade-like, keeled, clasping, or sheathing stem at base. Fruit: 3-celled capsule.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods, thickets, gardens.
Flowering Season - May-August.
Distribution - New York and Virginia westward to South Dakota and Arkansas.

As so very many of the blue flowers are merely naturalized immigrants from Europe, it is well to know we have sent to England
at least one native that was considered fit to adorn the grounds of Hampton Court. John Tradescant, gardener to Charles I, for whom the plant and its kin were named, had seeds sent him by a relative in the Virginia colony; and before long the deep azure blossoms with their golden anthers were seen in gardens on both sides of the Atlantic.

Like its relative the day-flower, the spiderwort opens for part of a day only. In the morning it is wide awake and pert; early in the afternoon its petals have begun to retreat within the calyx, until presently they become "dissolved in tears," like job or the traditional widow. What was flower only a few hours ago is now a fluid jelly that trickles at the touch.

Tomorrow fresh buds will open, and a continuous succession of bloom may be relied upon for a long season. Since its stigma is widely sepĀ­arated from the anthers and surpasses them, it is probable the flower cannot fertilize itself, but is wholly dependent on the female bees and other insects that come to it for pollen. Note the hairs on the stamens provided as footholds for the bees.