South Dakota Native Plant Research
Commelinaceae : Tradescantia bracteata

Commelinaceae : Tradescantia bracteata


Download Seed: Bracted spiderwort seed is 1.5-2 mm long. (60 KB)

Download Seedling: Seedling of the bracted spiderwort. (801 KB)

Download Flowering: Bracted spiderwort flowers in an umbel like cluster. (1.2 MB)

Family Name


Common Name

Long-bracted spiderwort

Native American Name

Lakota: čhaŋȟlóǧaŋ pȟáŋpȟaŋla


Tradescantia bracteata is a subsucculent perennial herb with erect to ascending, simple or occasionally branching stems, with 2-4 nodes and growing 5–45 cm tall. The stems can have a zig-zag appearance due to the jointed leaf attachment and multiple stems often emerge from an underground crown. The simple, alternate leaves are green with a whitish waxy coating, linear-lanceolate, 8-30 cm in length and 7-16 mm wide, rarely folded, with sheathing bases and entire margins. The inflorescence is an umbellate cyme of few to many flowers at the top of the stem, and at the ends of branches arising from leaf axils, with only 1 to a few open at a time and subtended by elongated bracts similar to the foliage leaves, 6-30 cm long. Flower pedicels are 2–3 cm long with glandular and non-glandular hairs. The 3 sepals are 10-13 mm long with glandular hairs and purplish margins. The 3 petals are broadly ovate, about 18 mm long and blue to rose-violet in color. The flowers open in the morning and typically wilt by noon. There are 6 stamens with bright yellow anthers and long blue hairs toward the base of the filaments. The fruit is a rounded capsule with three locules, each producing 1- few oblong seeds, 2-4 mm long. Long-bracted spiderwort blooms from May through August, growing on moist disturbed soils throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Long-bracted spiderwort is an attractive and easy to grow species that can enhance any native plant garden. It prefers rich, well drained soils, but is heat and drought tolerant and can grow on dry soils. The flowers attract native bees and butterflies. T. bracteata and T. occidentalis grow in overlapping habitats in many SD locations. In these areas they hybridize freely and are difficult to separate taxonomically, resulting in seeds collected in the wild producing plants with intermediate characteristics.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seed in June- September.

Germination: Plant seed outside in the fall after the first frost. The seeds need a long (120 day) cold treatment.

Soils: Prefers loamy, well-drained soil, but is quite adaptable to many soil types.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Water: Dry to moist

Commelinaceae : Tradescantia bracteata