The Story of the Spiderworts and John Tradescant.
The Spiderworts common name is obvious; the blooms look somewhat like spiders. (Wort simply means plant or root in Latin.) But the botanical name is more interesting.
These flowers are named tradescantia after two very interesting Englishmen, a father and son, of the Elizabethan Age. John Tradescant, the Elder was a royal gardener and became very famous for his travels and exotic plants he brought home from the Continent. His son traveled much further. Even though he died in 1662, only 42 years after the Pilgrims arrived, he managed three different trips to Virginia. He introduced the North American Tulip Tree and other plants to Europe, but he and his father are immortalized forever in these beautiful American wildflowers. There are several wild species of Tradescantias in eastern America, with flowers ranging from blue to pink to white. All have the distinctive three-petaled form, and all are plants of wet places. Most hybrids today are created from crossing T. virginiana, the common blue Spiderwort, with other species in the group.
The Museum of Garden History in England celebrates the Tradescants, their travels, and their collections. You can visit their website and read even more: Click here to visit the Museum of Garden History.