Monday, October 12, 2009

More surprising edibles: Spiderworts

This is another pass-along plant I received quite a few years ago that I went a bit unimpressed "eh" to initially but couldn't say no to (I can't say no to free plants!)
(Pardon crappy pic of lone not in flower spiderwort, to see in flower look here)

I've grown to appreciate their pop of color during the spring/summer and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they are edible too!

Spiderworts, also strangely known as Cow's Slobber (due to their sticky muciliginous nature like okra) have edible stems, leaves and flowers that can be eaten fresh or cooked. This "slobber" is used as a thickening agent in food (like okra again) and like aloe, can help heal wounds or relieve insect bites purportedly.

Mine stick around happily in unsheltered southern exposure and self seed readily. They also can be propagated by cuttings, and upon close inspection of my plants, when Spiderworts become somewhat rangy appearing, it looks like little new plant shoots are developing on the main stem, so if that main is buried, the new plants will most likely root up.

It may take a year or two before they get quite large and showy in their flowers, but once they are established they are really attract the bumblebees, with the bees' weight bending the flower stems here and there as they land.

Spiderworts are considered somewhat invasive, and though each of their triangular flowers tend to last only a day, the flower buds form in clusters of as many as 20 at a time, so the chances for more Spiderworts is pretty great.

Another interesting aspect of Spiderworts (other than their deliciousness) is their other name Radiation plant! Usually the stamens are purple or bluish but when they turn pink, their biological sensitivity is better than human instruments in
the detection of ionizing radiation.

So, if you believe in a radioactive/nuclear apocalyptic meltdown, or live near a nuclear power plant, Spiderworts are for you!

Links of Interest:


Ginger said...

Wow, I had NO idea spiderwort is edible!

Unfortunately, it is truly taking over our yard, and is incredibly hard to eradicate, so we're not fans. I pulled up roots 5'+ long last time we went on a killing spree!

persephone said...

But Ginger! You just pulled up your only means to know if a nuclear apocalypse has occurred or blown your way! Hahaha, yep, they do self seed wonderfully... but for my little bed, they stay pretty well in place and keep me from having to buy more plants. I'm not such a great "front yard" for the neighbors to see gardener :/