Is it an iris? Is it a grass?

Is it an iris? Is it a grass? No, its a spiderwort! Ohio spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis – http://bit.ly/1gRYfe7) is the most wide spread member of the genus in North America. Its lovely blue flowers bloom from May into July and are a favorite haunt of bumblebees. If you have a medium to dry area on your landscape that receives decent sun then this is a species for you. It is easy to grow from seed and readily spreads. Speaking of seeds, Ohio spiderwort has some of the neatest looking seeds of any native forb. Grab a hand lens and check them out. They look like miniature fossils! It also has the added benefit of dying back mid summer, which means you have the option of planting other, late blooming species in and around the spiderwort to get more out of the space you have available. Interestingly enough the blue color of the stamens turn pink when exposed to certain types of radiation making this genus a useful tool for detecting sources of ambient radiation.

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