Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Ohio Spiderwort - Tradescantia ohiensis   Rafinesque
Members of Commelinaceae:
Members of Tradescantia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Commelinales » Family Commelinaceae
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DistributionPresent throughout the Mountains and the western two-thirds of the Piedmont. The range extends eastward toward the central coast, where it occurs from there southward. It is essentially absent from the northern parts of the Coastal Plain, and of uncertain provenance in the northeastern Piedmont. Plants in the Sandhills proper all are from disturbed habitats and so Ohio Spiderwort may not be native there.

This is primarily a Midwestern species, being found in most counties in states bordering the Mississippi River. It does range east to the Atlantic, from MA to FL, and south to TX. The range in the eastern states is somewhat spotty, such that the scarcity in northeastern NC is real.
AbundanceFairly common in the western half of the state. Infrequent in the southern half of the Coastal Plain and into the southern Piedmont. Very rare to absent east of Orange County and north of Hyde and Pitt counties.
HabitatThis is a species not only of natural habitats but also of disturbed ones, such that in many places it acts as a non-native species. It can occur in mesic woods, bottomlands, and especially their borders, but mostly it grows in waste areas, roadsides, along railroads, and other open and disturbed places. Plants from the northeastern Piedmont and Sandhills especially are from weedy places and might not be natural occurrences.
PhenologyBlooms from April into July, and fruits shortly after blooming.
IdentificationThis is the spiderwort seen by more people than the others in the state and is the standard one for comparisons. The flowering stem reaches 1.5-2 feet tall, and along it grow scattered narrow leaves about 6 inches long and about 2/3-inch wide. The entire plant is glaucous (whitened), which by itself may be sufficient for identification. Nearly all parts of the plant are smooth, such as the stem, leaves, and sepals. The flower cluster at the top of the stem contains several flowers. The three petals are blue (to less often violet-blue) and the open flower is about 1 inch across. This is the only spiderwort (Tradescantia) to be found in the state's Coastal Plain, and people usually encounter it there and in many other places in the state along roadsides, without ever having to visit the interior of a forest.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Smooth Spiderwort
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieWhispering Pines, roadside, July 2021. MoorePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieRoadside, May 2016.
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