Commelinaceae

This is a moderate-sized Family of the Monocotyledons comprising about 38 genera and 500 species. It includes Tradescantia. the spiderworts of our gardens, and a number of tender pot plants with foliage decorative for our homes, such as Rhoeo and Zebrina. Succulence is most developed in Tradescantia navicularis from northern Peru, an attractive miniature in which each keel-shaped leaf has the upper surface distended by development of a massive translucent water-storing tissue beneath the epidermis. This can best be seen by snapping a leaf in two and viewing against the light. It is an easy plant to grow on a sunny windowsill or in a frost-free glasshouse. Well fed and watered, it puts out long, zigzag, creeping stems. At the onset of drought, these die back but leave compact buds at the nodes, which root readily and can be used for propagation. Other species of Tradescantia are also sometimes included in succulent collections, as is Cyanotis somaliensis. with white furry fleshy leaves and blue flowers.

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