Foto Friday: Moses in a boat

Spiderwort lining the garden at Lower Dover.

Spiderwort a.k.a. Moses in boat, is a common plant growing in the tropics. It makes for an excellent landscaping plant, given it’s easy maintenance. It get’s its name from the pods, which are supposed to resemble Moses in a boat. It’s great for lining gardens and placing on the edge of foot paths, however be careful parts of it are poisonous. The sap can cause irritation to the skin, and definitely don’t chew on it. Once started it’s easy to maintain, it grows fast and can be split and replanted. In parts of Florida it has become an invasive species due to it’s rapid growth. In China, they use parts of the plant for medicinal purposes.

Spiderwort lining a garden at Lower Dover.

The pod, the name sake, Moses in a boat.

Moses in a boat cluster at Lower Dover.

Check out this first hand account of it’s abundance in Thailand at Bloom in Bert.

Also known as spiderwort, it’s an odd little plant really. It consists of a spiky rosette-shaped cluster of leaves with a purple-green hue. The leaves look quite normal if you look at them from the top; the strange thing is that the underside is a deep maroon color, for no particular reason.

It has quite a short stem, and doesn’t usually get much taller than about 30 to 40 centimeters. It gets its name from the fact that tiny white flowers appear from the base of the leaves near the stem. I suppose that if you have a few Heinekens (or Beer Laos, as I’ve recently discovered), and squint with your eyes half-closed, that in a certain light, the shape does slightly resemble a boat containing a white blob. Quite how this looks like a bearded baby bloke in a papyrus basket, I’m not sure.

This is certainly not the user-friendliest of plants, as all parts of the spiderwort are poisonous. Any contact with the sap may cause some stinging and your skin to itch. Attempt to eat this unassuming little shrub, and a severe burning in the mouth and throat will be the result. This is not the ideal plant to chew on.

If you have a patch of ground in your garden that you’re just tired of looking at, and want to cover in the easiest way possible with the minimum of effort, this plant is the one. Once it is established, it will require little further input or effort from you. It will be less enthusiastic if it’s too shaded, but with plenty of sun, it will continue to cover more ground quite contentedly.“


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