Plants and Animals

Tradescantia virginiana Virginia spiderwort

species photo
Brad Slaughter
species photo
Brad Slaughter
species photo
Brad Slaughter

Key Characteristics

Medium-sized forb (40 cm) of dry prairies; 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

US Status:
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S2 - Imperiled

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Clinton11923
Ingham11923
Ionia32012
Midland11977
Monroe11951
Washtenaw11918

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.

Habitat

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.

Management Recommendations

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.

Survey Methods

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

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From fourth week of May to fourth week of June

References

Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Braun, E. L. 1967. The Monocotyledoneae of Ohio. Cat-tails to Orchids. Ohio State University Press, Columbus. 464pp.
  • Deam, C. C. 1940. Flora of Indiana. Department of Conservation, Indianapolis. 1236pp.
  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2000. Flora of North America, North of Mexico. Volume 22: Magnoliaphyta: Alismatidae, Arecidae, Commelinidae (in part), and Zingiberidae. Oxford University Press, New York. 352pp.
  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 910pp.
  • Gray, A. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany; eighth ed. Van Nostrand Reinghold, New York. 1632pp.
  • Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the vascular plants of Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 937pp.
  • Mohlenbrock, R.H. 1986. Guide to the Vascular Flora of Illinois. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 507pp.
  • Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region, 4th ed. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. 921pp.
  • Voss, E. G. 1972. Michigan Flora. Part I. Gymnosperms and Monocots. Bulletin of the Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. 488pp.