Tradescantia virginiana L.
CC = 6
CW = 3
MOC = 30
Family - Commelinaceae
Habit - Perennial forb with thickened, fleshy roots.
Stems - Erect, to 40 cm, single or multiple from the base, glabrous basally, puberulent at the apex, slightly zig-zag.
Leaves - Alternate, sessile, to 40 cm, linear-lanceolate, sheathing at the base, the blade narrower than the flattened and unfolded sheath. Sheaths glabrous, with long pilose hairs on the margins. Blades entire, deep green, silvery-green with parallel venation below, glabrous or sparsely hairy, the margins ciliate.
Inflorescences - Terminal umbels of several flowers. Flowers subtended by 1-2 leaflike bracts indistinguishable from the leaves. Flowers opening a few at a time. Flower stalks pinkish-green, 1.5-3.5 cm long, densely pubescent with spreading, nonglandular hairs.
Flowers - Actinomorphic. Sepals 3, 9-15 mm long, green, usually herbaceous and somewhat inflated, densely pubescent with nonglandular hairs. Petals 3, 12-18 mm long, broadly ovate, deep purple to purplish blue, less commonly reddish pink, glabrous. Stamens 6, erect. Filaments 6 mm long, purple, densely pubescent in the basal half with long, purple, multicellular hairs. Anthers yellow, 2-lobed, 2.5 mm broad. Ovary light green, glabrous, 2 mm long, 1.3 mm broad. Style 3 mm long, glabrous, purplish.
Flowering - April - June.
Habitat - Mesic to dry upland forests, shaded ledges of bluffs, open rocky woods, glade edges, railroads.
Origin - Native to the U.S.
Lookalikes - Several other species of Tradescantia.
Other info. - This striking species can be found in Missouri mainly in the eastern Ozarks and in counties bordering the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Beyond Missouri it is scattered throughout most of the eastern continental U.S. The plant can be identified by its small size, sepals which are hairy but not glandular, and narrow leaves. This species seems to prefer acidic soils but would do well in cultivation and make for an attractive garden specimen. It is known to hybridize with T. ohiensis, but this is rare.
Photographs taken at Whetstone Creek Conservation Area, Callaway County, MO., 4-27-04 and 5-4-04 (DETenaglia); also at Danville Conservation Area, Montgomery County, MO, 4-18-2017 (SRTurner).