Tradescantia virginiana
Virginia spiderwort
Image of Tradescantia virginiana

Photo by Brad Slaughter 

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Key Characteristics

Medium-sized forb (40 cm) of dry open forests; leaves lanceolate with swollen clasping bases; flowers purple, clustered at the top of the stem, borne singly on hairy, dropping stalks; sepals green with dense non-glandular hairs.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: SC
  • State Rank: S2
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Tradescantia virginiana

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Virginia spiderwort is known from sandy ridges, borders of oak woods and barrens and other dry sites.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

White oak, black oak, basswood, fragrant sumac, poison ivy, starry false Solomon-seal, wild columbine, false dandelion, alum root, yellow pimpernel, Pennsylvania sedge, and white wild licorice.


There is relatively little data on this species and thus a status survey is recommended. Management that maintains prairie and barrens habitat, including prescribed fire, would benefit this species.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 22, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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