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Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae

Division: Magnoliophyta

Class: Liliopsida

Order: Commelinales

Family: Commelinaceae

Genus: Tradescantia
L., 1753

About 70, including:
Tradescantia bracteata
Tradescantia brevifolia
Tradescantia buckleyi
Tradescantia cerinthoides
Tradescantia crassifolia
Tradescantia crassula
Tradescantia edwardsiana
Tradescantia ernestiana
Tradescantia fluminensis
Tradescantia gigantea
Tradescantia hirsuticaulis
Tradescantia hirsutiflora
Tradescantia humilis
Tradescantia iridescens
Tradescantia leiandra
Tradescantia longipes
Tradescantia navicularis
Tradescantia occidentalis
Tradescantia ohiensis
Tradescantia ozarkana
Tradescantia pallida
Tradescantia paludosa
Tradescantia pedicellata
Tradescantia pinetorum
Tradescantia roseolens
Tradescantia reverchonii
Tradescantia sillamontana
Tradescantia spathacea
Tradescantia subacaulis
Tradescantia subaspera
Tradescantia tepoxtlana
Tradescantia tharpii
Tradescantia virginiana
Tradescantia wrightii
Tradescantia zanonia
Tradescantia zebrina


Spiderwort (Tradescantia) is a genus of an estimated 71 species of perennial plants in the family Commelinaceae, native to the New World from southern Canada south to northern Argentina. They are weakly upright to scrambling plants, growing to 30-60 cm tall, and are commonly found individually or in clumps in wooded areas and fields. The leaves are long, thin and bladelike to lanceolate, from 3-45 cm long. The flowers are white, pink or purple but most commonly bright blue, with three petals and six yellow anthers. The sap is mucilaginous and clear. A number of the species flower in the morning and when the sun shines on the flowers in the afternoon they close up, but the flowers can remain open on cloudy days until evening.

Though sometimes accounted a weed, spiderwort is cultivated for borders and also used in containers. Where it appears as a volunteer, it is often welcomed and allowed to stay.

The first species described, Virginia Spiderwort T. virginiana, is native to the eastern United States from Maine to Alabama, and Canada in southern Ontario. Virginia Spiderwort was introduced to Europe in 1629, where it is cultivated as a garden flower.

The Western Spiderwort T. occidentalis is listed as an endangered species in Canada, where the northernmost populations of the species are found at a few sites in southern Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta; it is however more common further south in the United States south to Texas and Arizona.

The three species of Wandering Jew, one native to eastern Mexico, also belong to the tradescantia genus. Other names used for various species include Spider-lily, Cradle-lily, Oyster-plant and Flowering Inch Plant.

The genus takes its name from John Tradescant the elder, an 17th century English plant collector and nurseryman.


Wandering Jew
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For other uses, see Wandering Jew (disambiguation).

The Wandering Jew by Gustave Doré.The Wandering Jew is a figure from medieval Christian folklore whose legend began to spread in Europe in the thirteenth century and became a fixture of Christian mythology, and, later, of Romanticism. The original legend concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. The exact nature of the wanderer's indiscretion varies in different versions of the tale, as do aspects of his character; sometimes he is said to be a shoemaker or other tradesman, sometimes he is the doorman at Pontius Pilate's estate, and sometimes the myth is transferred to a Roman rather than a Jew.

Contents [hide]
1 Origin of the legend
2 His name
3 Related legends
4 In literature
4.1 Before 1600
4.2 17th and 18th centuries
4.3 19th century
4.3.1 English
4.3.2 German
4.3.3 France
4.3.4 Russia
4.3.5 Other literature
4.4 20th century
4.4.1 Spanish
4.4.2 German
4.4.3 Romanian
4.4.4 Russian
4.4.5 English
5 In film and on stage
6 Notes
7 References
8 External links

[edit] Origin of the legend
The origins of the legend are debatable. According to some sources, the legend stems from Jesus's words given in Matthew 16:28:

'Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.'(King James Version)[1]
A belief that the disciple whom Jesus loved would not die before the Second Coming was apparently popular enough in the early Christian world to be denounced in the Gospel of John:

20. And Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple following whom Jesus loved, who had also leaned on His breast at the supper, and had said, Lord, which is he who betrayeth Thee? 21. When, therefore, Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, Lord, and what shall he do? 22. Jesus saith to him, If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me. 23. Then this saying went forth among the brethren, that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus had not said to him that he would not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? (John 21:20-23, KJV)
A variant of the Wandering Jew legend is recorded in the Flores Historiarum by Roger of Wendover around the year 1228. An Armenian archbishop, then visiting England, was asked by the monks of St Albans Abbey about the celebrated Joseph of Arimathea, who had spoken to Jesus, and was reported to be still alive. The archbishop answered that he had himself seen him in Armenia, and that his name was Cartaphilus, a Jewish shoemaker, who, when Jesus stopped for a second to rest while carrying his cross, hit him, and told him "Go on quicker, Jesus! Go on quicker! Why dost Thou loiter?", to which Jesus, "with a stern countenance," is said to have replied: "I shall stand and rest, but thou shalt go on till the last day." The Armenian bishop also reported that Cartaphilus had since converted to Christianity and spent his wandering days proselytizing and leading a hermit's life.

Matthew Paris included this passage from Roger of Wendover in his own history; and other Armenians appeared in 1252 at the Abbey of St Albans, repeating the same story, which was regarded there as a great proof of the truth of the Christian religion.[2] The same archbishop appeared at Tournai in 1243, telling the same story, according to the Chronicles of Phillip Mouskes, (chapter ii. 491, Brussels, 1839).

The figure of the doomed sinner, forced to wander without the hope of rest in death till the second coming of Christ, impressed itself upon the popular medieval imagination, mainly with reference to the seeming immortality of the wandering Jewish people. These two aspects of the legend are represented in the different names given to the central figure. In German-speaking countries he is referred to as "Der Ewige Jude" (the immortal, or eternal, Jew), while in Romance-speaking countries he is known as "Le Juif Errant" (the Wandering Jew) and "L'Ebreo Errante"; the English form, probably because derived from the French, has followed the Romance. The Spanish name is Juan [el que] Espera a Dios, "John [who] waits for God," or, more commonly, "El Judío Errante."

[edit] His name
At least from the seventeenth century the name Ahasver has been given to the Wandering Jew, apparently adapted from Ahasuerus, the Persian king in Esther, who is not a Jew, and whose very name among medieval Jews was an exemplum of a fool.[3]

A variety of names have since been given to the Wandering Jew, including Matathias, Buttadeus, and Isaac Laquedem (a name for him in France and the Low Countries, in popular legend as well as in a novel by Dumas, see below).

[edit] Related legends
A variation on the story was later applied to Longinus, the soldier who pierced Jesus' side while he hung on the cross. Yet another version declares that the wanderer is the attendant Malchus, whose ear Saint Peter cut off in the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:10), who was condemned to wander until the second coming. His action is associated in some way with the scoffing of Jesus, and is so represented in a broadsheet which appeared in 1584.

Similar legends involve the origins of the Gypsies. In one version, the Gypsies descended from the blacksmith who created the nails used in the Crucifixion. The Gypsies' constant wandering and exclusion were therefore explained by their betrayal of Jesus much in the same way the exclusion and pogroms against Jews were explained. There is an alternative version told by Gypsies in which a clever gypsy stole some of the nails before Jesus was put upon the cross, thus easing his suffering a little bit and being blessed for all time. In Genesis, Cain is issued with a similar punishment — to wander over the earth, never reaping a harvest again, but scavenging.

The Book of Mormon includes the Three Nephites who also became immortal after interacting with Jesus. They were given immortality as a reward, however, rather than a punishment. Similarly, the LDS book of scripture called The Doctrine and Covenants in Section 7 also specifies that John the Beloved desired to stay and do the Lord's work until He returned, in corroboration of the New Testament text cited above.

The adventurer Count Saint Germain, who was active in Europe in the eighteenth century was sometimes associated with the Wandering Jew, especially in the legends which accumulated about him after his death.

The legend of the Flying Dutchman is similar in some respects.

[edit] In literature

[edit] Before 1600
"The Pardoner's Tale," a story from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer may contain a reference to the Wandering Jew. Many have attributed to the Wandering Jew the enigmatic character of the old man who is unable to die and wishes to trade his age for someone else's youth. He also disciplines the three rioters when they are rude to him and insult his circumstances, perhaps indicating he has learned his lesson from tormenting Jesus.

[edit] 17th and 18th centuries
The legend became more popular after it appeared in a pamphlet of four leaves, Kurtze [sic] Beschreibung und Erzählung von einem Juden mit Namen Ahasverus (Short description and tale of a Jew with the name Ahasuerus).[4] "Here we are told that some fifty years before, a bishop met him in a church at Hamburg, repentant, ill-clothed and distracted at the thought of having to move on in a few weeks"[5] As with urban legends, particularities lend verisimilitude: the bishop is specifically the Bishop of Schleswig, Paulus von Eizen. The legend spread quickly throughout Germany, no less than eight different editions appearing in 1602; altogether forty appeared in Germany before the end of the eighteenth century. Eight editions in Dutch and Flemish are known; and the story soon passed to France, the first French edition appearing in Bordeaux, 1609, and to England, where it appeared in the form of a parody in 1625.[6] The pamphlet was translated also into Danish and Swedish; and the expression "eternal Jew" is current in Czech and German, der Ewige Jude.

In France, the Wandering Jew appeared in Simon Tyssot de Patot's La Vie, les Aventures et le Voyage de Groenland du Révérend Père Cordelier Pierre de Mésange (1720).

[edit] 19th century

[edit] English
The Wandering Jew makes an appearance in one of the secondary plots in Matthew Lewis's Gothic novel The Monk, first published in 1796. The Wandering Jew is also mentioned in "Melmoth the Wanderer" by Charles Maturin c. 1820.

In England — besides the ballad given in Thomas Percy's Reliques and reprinted in Francis James Child's English and Scotch Ballads (1st ed., viii. 77) — there is a drama entitled The Wandering Jew, or Love's Masquerade, written by Andrew Franklin (1797). Shelley introduced Ahasuerus into his "Queen Mab". Thomas Carlyle, in his Sartor Resartus (1834), compares its hero Diogenes Teufelsdroeckh on several occasions to the Wandering Jew, (also using the German wording 'der ewige Jude'
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