Tradescantia longipes

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: spiderwort 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Commelinaceae
Native Range: Southern Missouri, northern Arkansas
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Purple, bluish-purple
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade. Prefers moist, acidic soils. Tolerant of poor soils. Divide clumps when they become overcrowded. Foliage declines after flowering and should then be cut back almost to the ground to encourage new growth and a possible fall bloom. Can self-seed and spread in the garden in ideal growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tradescantia longipes is a low-growing, clump-forming, Missouri native which grows only to 8" tall and typically occurs on rocky, wooded slopes in the Ozark region of the State. Deep blue to purple, three-petaled flowers (.75-1.5" diameter) accented by fringed yellow stamens open up, a few at a time, each for only one day, from terminal clusters (umbels) containing numerous flower buds. Flowers bloom in succession from May to June. Arching, grass-like, dark green leaves up to 7" long and 1/2" wide are folded lengthwise forming a groove. Sometimes commonly called wild crocus, this native plant is not found in the wild outside the Ozark region (Missouri and Arkansas).

Genus name honors John Tradescant (1570-1638) and his son John Tradescant (1608-1662), botanists and successive gardeners to Charles I of England.

Specific epithet means long-stalked.


No serious insect or disease problems. Young shoots are susceptible to snail damage. Foliage sprawls in an unattractive manner by mid-summer.

Garden Uses

An interesting native perennial for rock gardens or native plant gardens. Also appropriate for open woodland or shade gardens, wild gardens or naturalized areas. Also can be grown in borders, but mid-summer foliage decline is a potential disincentive for this placement.