Western spiderwort, prairie spiderwort
The Four Corners and Great Plains states
Grassland, forest openings, sandy locations, roadsides
Linear to narrowly lanceolate, up to 15 inches long and half an inch wide, hairless
The inch-wide flowers of tradescantia occidentalis are unusual and distinctive, formed of three ovate, bluish-purple petals around six thick, hairy, purple stamens, topped by bright yellow anthers. Underneath the petals are three pointed green sepals, which have a light glandular hair covering. Flowers are produced in small clusters (up to 10 heads) along the upper portion of the stem, but only one or two are in bloom at any one time. On hot days they tend to open in the morning and wither during the afternoon. Two leaf like bracts grow from the base of the flower cluster, several inches long. Stem leaves are long and thin, hairless, with several lengthwise veins. Leaf edges are often folded up.