Why We're No Longer Using the Name Wandering Jew
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Why We're No Longer Using the Name Wandering Jew

The Tradescantia genus is beautiful, convenient and flexible. If you're often away from home (or just forgetful!) these houseplants are a dream as they like breaks between waterings, and will flourish when they're next given a soaking. The Tradescantia zebrina, one of our favourites, has flowing tendrils that'll look fantastic in a hanging pot or flowing down a bookcase. 

In this blog, we explain why we love this plant family, and why we've decided to use the name 'Wandering Dude,' in favour of the historically used 'Wandering Jew.' 

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We love this beautifully-patterned trailing plant at Bloombox Club. Tradescantia are survivors. They can be pushed right to the brink of desolation and then, with some emergency TLC, be brought back to full health within days. They’re a great reminder that life fluctuates and things can get better.

The Tradescantia genus can be found right across the Americas, in woodlands and open fields. They’re ‘scramblers,’ which means they grow long weak shoots around other ‘host’ plants for survival.

Tradescantia zebrina ‘Violet’ is a fond favourite, with their soft purple and green teardrop leaves, which grow in abundance along trailing stems. But Tradescantia fluminensis, with pink variegation in place of the zebrina’s regular purple/green pattern, comes in at a close second. Both plants have defined fractal patterns, which help relax the mind. 

Previously, Bloombox Club titled Tradescantia with their common name: 'Wandering Jew.'

We assumed the name referred to the Israelites, cursed to 'wander' through the desert in search of the promised land until the last member of the original generation (Moses) dies. 

But further research revealed ‘Wandering Jew’ to be connected to an apocryphal myth, one that has been used to justify anti-Semitism since at least the 13th century. 

The story goes that one of the men who taunted Jesus on his way to be crucified was cursed to walk the Earth until the Second Coming. In the context of the observable Jewish diaspora; the displacement of Jewish peoples from the Southern Levant in ancient times, and subsequent statelessness from anti-Semitic regimes, we are profoundly uncomfortable with using this moniker.

Unfortunately, most of the internet doesn’t seem to feel that way. Although Tradescantia zebrina has other common names, including Spiderwort and Inch Plant, 'Wandering Jew' seems to be the only one that's stuck. 

Bloomboxclub spoke to different plant communities about this quandary, and we think we've found a good alternative. The plant was named 'Wandering Jew', due to its hyper-adaptability and tendency to spread easily and quickly.

Well all of these qualities apply to the 'Wandering Dude:' the guy who gets around despite infrequent attention, and isn't fussy about where he ends up! We believe that this is a better title, but if any wandering dudes are offended by the comparison, please get in touch ...

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