Tradescantia ernestiana E.S. Anderson & Woodson



CC = 8
CW = 5
MOC = 11

© SRTurner

Family - Commelinaceae

Habit - Perennial forb with thickened, fleshy roots.

Stems - Erect, 20-40 cm long, not zigzag, glabrous or sparsely and inconspicuously hairy.

Tradescantia_ernestiana_stem.jpg Stem and nodes.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Alternate. Blades of the leaves and bracts 6-25 cm long, linear-lanceolate to narrowly elliptic-lanceolate, tapering abruptly at the base and at least the upper leaf blades and bracts conspicuously broader than the basal sheaths, with parallel venation, glabrous or sparsely and inconspicuously hairy, deep green, not glaucous.

Tradescantia_ernestiana_leaves1.jpg Leaves adaxial.

© SRTurner

Tradescantia_ernestiana_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Terminal cluster blooming 1-3 flowers at a time. Flower stalks 20-32 mm long, pubescent with nonglandular hairs, erect in flower, nodding in fruit.

Tradescantia_ernestiana_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Sepals 10-14 mm long, green, herbaceous and usually somewhat inflated, pubescent with nonglandular hairs. Petals 14-16 mm long, ovate, deep blue, less commonly reddish pink or purple, glabrous. Stamens 6, erect. Filaments with purple multicellular pubescence. Anthers yellow, 2-lobed, 2.1 mm broad, 1.4 mm long. Ovary 3-locular, white, glabrous, 3-angled. Placentation axile. Style purple, glabrous, 6-7 mm long.

Tradescantia_ernestiana_buds.jpg Flower buds.

© SRTurner

Tradescantia_ernestiana_flower.jpg Flower.

© SRTurner

Tradescantia_ernestiana_flower2.jpg Flower lateral view.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Capsules 4-8 mm long, ovoid, 3-locular. Seeds 3-6 per capsule, 2-3 mm long, oblong to ovoid and somewhat flattened with a depression on 1 side, the surfaces undulate to bluntly several-ribbed.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Mesic upland forests, streambanks, ravines, shaded bluffs, on calcareous substrates.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Other species of Tradescantia, especially T. ozarkana.

Other info. - This striking species is found in a handful of southern Ozark counties. Beyond Missouri it occurs in only four other states, in two of which it is considered rare. The plant is smaller than most others in the genus but has good-sized flowers.

T. ernestiana has a short flowering season but would still make a good shade garden specimen if adequate moisture could be provided.

Photographs taken at Poison Hollow, Howell County, MO, 5-14-2019 (SRTurner).