Ohio Spiderwort – Edible, Hardy, and Beautiful

This article is part of our Native Plant Series and features one pollinator friendly, drought tolerant US native plant hardy to at least zone 4.

purple-1147337_960_720Minnesota is tough place to live! It’s even tougher for plants. Long cold winters are the hallmark of our state, but most people are unaware that the middle strip of Minnesota is a sand plain – characterized by brutal winds and dry beach-like soil. This is our home.

We grow a wide variety of plants under these conditions. Some are edible, some nitrogen fixing, some food for animals, and some are soil stabilizers. All are survivors!

Ohio Spiderwort (tradescantia ohiensis) is one of our favorites. It arrives early in the spring with grass-like foliage. The flowers are bright blue – unlike anything else in the early prairie. The flowers bleed when wet and stain your fingers a deep indigo. When picking the flowers (or gathering the seeds,) the plant has a tendency to ooze a gooey sap similar to spider webbing. This can be avoided by not breaking the leaves/stems.

The plants grow for many weeks, but their flowers are more fleeting. By the end of summer, they leave no trace. They grow well by seed, attract pollinators, and are edible.spiderwort-1347209_960_720Best of all – they thrive in poor conditions. Sand or clay – baked in the hot sun, the ohio spiderwort champions through. They are a beautiful addition to the prairie but can also grow in landscaped lawns. Here they offer a pop of color in spring and a lot of interest to the overall landscape.

The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible – tasty but sometimes a little mucilaginous. The stems are the real prize; similar to asparagus.

Because we are actively working to increase our population, we are not currently selling ohio spiderwort seed, but do sell a variety of other hardy native plant seeds in our store.

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