Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis)

Kentucky has two species of early summer blooming spiderworts, Ohio and zigzag or wide-leaf (T. subaspera).  The more showy of the two species is definitely Ohio as it grows to 2-3' tall in full shade to almost full sun and will stay in flower until July or later.  The wide-leaf species flowers mostly in late-May and early June, prefers deep shade and does not flower as profusely as the former species.  Of course we also have a spring blooming spiderwort, the Virginia (T. virginiana).  The easiest way to tell the species apart is to look at the leaves in terms of the width and also the glaucous or fuzzy nature of Ohio spiderwort (top image).  These are very easy to grow and maintain species and will ultimately form a nice clump (Ohio much larger than wide-leaf) that can reach 2' across.  The flower color ranges from blue to lavender and occasionally white or pink.  Ohio spiderwort prefers dry to medium soils and is incredibly drought tolerant. As the clumps enlarge, they should be divided in the fall.  Each individual flower only stays in bloom for a single day.There are few to no disease or insect problems associated with this species.  It should be cut back in late summer to 6" to eliminate bad looking foliage and to stimulate a potential fall bloom.  It is pollinated primarily by bumblebees and the foliage will be eaten by deer, rabbits, box turtles and even livestock as it is non-toxic. This species is named in honor ot John Tradescant, the royal gardener of King Charles I of England and in 1637 his son brought the plant from North American back to England where it became a garden favorite.  The species name arises from found in Ohio. These plants have become somewhat of a biological indicator species of high radiation and constant chemical pollution as studies at Kyoto University in Japan and Brookhaven national Lab found that the normally blue stamen hairs turn pink when exposed to radiation or constant pollution. Spiderwort use by Native Americans used it as a cure for tarantism and the Cherokee used to make a tea to treat female problems and a laxative to treat stomach and kidney ailments.  The Lakota made a blue paint from the flower to decorate clothing and crushed leaves were used to make a poultice to treat insect bites and stings.  This species also goes by the following common names: cow slobber, Indian Paint, Job's Tears, Blue Jackets, Widow's tears, Moses in the Buhrushes, Dayflower, and Trinity flower.

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