This time of year, roadsides in southwest Mississippi are alive with wildflowers, and one of my favorite of these is the spiderwort (Tradescantia) that graces our ditches and fencelines throughout April and May.
There are two main species of spiderwort around here, Virginia spiderwort and Ohio spiderwort. Our region lies within the native distribution of both varieties and I can't tell them apart.
Naturalists are not even sure where the off-putting name comes from. Some say it is because the long lanceolate leaves hanging down all around makes the plant look like a giant green spider. Others claim that the fluid that runs from broken stems can be dried and drawn into white fibrous strands that resemble spider silk.
All I know for sure about them is that despite being ditch weeds they sure are beautiful.
The biggest, most striking patch of spiderwort that I’ve ever seen is in bloom right now south of Magnolia along the west side of Highway 51. This amazing stand of lavender blooms starts near the city limits sign just south of Reid Park and continues unabated for about a mile.
If you want to go check it out, be sure to go in the morning because the blossoms close up in the afternoon.