Moses in the Cradle
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Moses in the Cradle
ntroduced Photo: Aarti Khale
Common name: Moses in the Cradle, Oysterplant, Boatlily, Moses-in-a-boat
Botanical name: Tradescantia spathacea    Family: Commelinaceae (Dayflower family)
Synonyms: Rhoeo spathacea

Moses in the Cradle is a rather succulent herb with a dense cluster of sturdy 6-12 in long sword-shaped leaves arising from a trunklike stem up to 8 in tall. The leaves are a dark teal-tinged forest green on top and vivid violet underneath. The small white three-petaled flowers are hidden in boat-shaped purple bracts nestled in the leaf axils. Flowers and seed are produced all year. Interestingly, the curious looking flower of this plant is referred to as Nargis in Hyderabad. Probably, the boat shaped bracts with a small white flower in the middle, looks like an eye - hence, the name Nargis, which is generally associated with eyes in Persian/Urdu poetry. However, in the rest of India, at least in the northern parts, Narcissus is the flower which is commonly known as Nargis.

Identification credit: Rehman Khan Photographed in Nasik, Maharashtra.

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