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Sunday, March 31, 2013


This plant was given to me by Shelly last summer. It has pretty leaves, and it just bloomed! I set off on an internet quest to learn more about it.

Moses in the boat houseplant

For starters, it's a Tradescantia, Tradescantia discolor to be exact (also now called Rhoeo discolor). That means it's related to the common garden plant, spiderwort. However, I didn't previously realize it, because I think of Tradescantia as having a rather off-balance growth pattern. I guess that's not typical of all the species.

Moses in the boat houseplant

It has several common names. The Moses-in-the-Boat comes from the white blossoms in the boat-shaped cradle of bracts, looking like baby Moses set adrift in the Nile. It's also called Boatlily. I think that's obvious after the previous explanation. I have no idea why it's called Oyster Plant. Of course there is a very different plant with that common name.

Moses in the boat houseplant

The three bold parts to the blossom should have been a clue to the genus, but I didn't catch on before looking it up.

In fact, this is a common garden plant in tropical areas, including south California and Florida. It's actually considered invasive in Florida. I also learned that the sap is extremely irritating to the skin. I think I'll be very careful when I move or repot it, since I'm so allergic to poison ivy. I read that it's very problematic to dogs where it grows outdoors. It causes rashes and sores that don't heal without trips to the vet.

I'll happily keep mine as a houseplant, and in the north there is no danger of putting it outside. It shouldn't be overwatered... not a danger for any of my houseplants!

I have another Tradescantia houseplant, and you can see it at Spring in the Kitchen. It's never bloomed since that post.

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Ivy said...

Moses-in-the-Boat certainly seems apt although I love the name boatlily too. To me they look like three fairies that live in the plant and they've emerged to grant you three wishes. :)

Aries said...

That is a unique plant. Had never seen any like it here. Hi, just blog hopping

Ann said...

I have heard of those plants but never saw one before. That's really cool

Linda said...

First I have seen a plant like this. Thank you so much for sharing.