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Genus of the Week

Week of March 1-7

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This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you should also visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes , a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.

This week's genus:


Subclass: Monocotyledoneae
Superorder: Commelinidae
Order: Commelinales
Family: Commelinaceae
Number of Species: approximately 35
Root: Named for John Tradescant, a famous English naturalist. During the 17th century, John was the head gardener for both King Charles I and the Earls of Salisbury. (Thanks to Biography.com for providing some of this information!)

Plants in the genus Tradescantia are known mainly for their ornamental value. Horticulturists may recognize this genus by its more familiar common names including Spiderwort and Wandering Jew. The common name Wandering Jew comes from the fact that gardeners were trading cuttings of that species long before the horticultural industry developed, allowing the plant to "travel" all over the world. If you have Tradescantia as a houseplant you know it as something very easy to care for and propagate. While some people admire the plants of this genus for their attractive 3-petaled flowers, others consider the young stems and leaves to be a tasty snack!

Here are some links to images and information for the genus Tradescantia:


  1. Crockett, James Underwood. Crockett's Indoor Garden
  2. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.

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