Why We're No Longer Using the Name Wandering Jew

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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. 

Tradescantias have been a favourite of ours for a while, and we've always used the common name 'Wandering Jew.' We thought the name referred to the Israelites ‘wandering’ through the desert for 40 years. Having been exiled from Ancient Egypt, Moses sends twelve ‘spies’ into the desert to find the promised land. They return unconvinced and speak disparagingly of what they’ve seen, slandering that which God has offered them. As punishment, Moses and his people are sentenced to wander through the desert, and do not reach the promised land until the last member of the original generation dies; Moses collapses, at the age of a hundred and twenty, when he looks over the promised land from Mount Nebo.

Further research revealed the ‘Wandering Jew’ to be an old myth that has been used to justify anti-Semitism since at least the 13th century. The story goes that one of the men who taunted Christ 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 the 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 befit the name 'Wandering Dude,' the guy who gets around despite infrequent attention, and isn't fussy about where he ends up. 

We hope you'll join us in christening the Wandering Dude and take a look at our brand new variegated Wandering Dude 'Pink.'



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