Spiderwort – Big Mill’s “Canary in the coal mine”
This wonderful blue flower that grows in my eastern North Carolina garden is Spiderwort (Tradescantia), pronounced trad-ess-KANT-ee-uh. Each day in spring and early summer I am greeted with the vibrant blue of these odd beauties. Then about noon, they close. My mother loved these flowers – hence, so do I.
Years ago I read that spiderwort was used at nuclear power plants like the canary in the mine. If there is a leak, the blue flowers turn pink! Well, my flowers turned pink. I immediately called my scientist friend John Umstead and proclaimed that I had a pink spiderwort.
John calmly asked me how many nuclear power plants were in Williamston. To which I had to respond, “None.” He then asked, “How many diesel tractors?” Hmmm, lots. So I think puffing tractors can also affect my blue flowers. I am still laughing. It is called “ionizing radiation” and who could imagine this was happening in my little garden?
Some consider it a wildflower and some folks consider it a weed.
I consider Spiderwort a joy and folks visiting Big Mill B&B will probably be served at least one spiderwort flower if they are here in the spring!
An added bonus: Spiderwort is edible – the flower, the stalks and the leaves. Check the video on “Eat the Weeds” about cooking with Tradescantia. I found that I have many edible flowers in my garden here at Big Mill B&B.
Don’t forget – there are no nuclear power leaks at Big Mill.
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