Wandering Sailor

Wandering Sailor

The plant in the picture is called Wandering Sailor at least that’s what my mother thought. We have two of these plants in the house and my sister has at least one. They came from a cutting which my mother smuggled back from Germany in 1951.

In those days service people returning from the continent were not allowed to bring plants back to the UK . However mother was loathe to lose all her house plants so she took cuttings wrapped them in damp cotton wool and sewed them up inside various soft toys which we carried with us.

I recall this particular plant because it was hidden inside my sisters white rabbit which was called Ninny. The customs officer picked Ninny up and shook him (her ?),  mother wasn’t the only person to hide stuff in soft toys although probably the only one to do it with plants.

Author: jazz606

An Old Dog

6 thoughts on “Wandering Sailor”

  1. Looks like Tradescantia to me! Purplish reverse to leaves and very strong jointing? It grows wild round New Orleans, like a lot of the semi tropicals doesn’t like below 40F. Presume you water root cuttings on the windowsill?

    I am so glad other people do such illegal things. I am rather know for my peripatetic plants! I have a Christmas cactus, a positively hideous thing that was given to me as a cutting from the old girl in my twenties.
    It, cuttings, have been to America and back twice. The boy had to have it too. His plants went to my sister when he died. I still have it in the greenhouse it is of monstrous proportions! I hate the thing but it has to go with me!

    the boy had propagated from seeds, stolen from Brum Botanic gardens, a rare lily from Queensland. I took it out of its pot, washed the roots, cut down the foliage to the size of a large leek, wrapped it in clingfilm and into my suitcase it went. Still going strong and 4′ high in the greenhouse here, flowers every year. He was always stealing seeds from the Botanic gardens, never plants. They knew, I just used to leave a decent contribution for their funds, we were members and there several times a week. The challenge being to germinate tropical seeds in a 5th floor flat, he was a good gardener, inherited genes!!!

    My best was years ago in the Canaries. I was having tremendous trouble germinating strelizia regina, bird of paradise flower seeds. I was so pissed off I marched into the Botanic gardens there found the head gardener and bribed him to sell me roots of the flower of stock that he knew flowered well. He was very pleased with that day’s business! I admired a white agapanthus on the way out (African bluebell) which he insisted on giving me as well! We were both very happy. Back to the hotel, washed trimmed and clingfilmed it went back to the UK. I gave them to a friend when I left again who promptly killed them! aargh!

    I am well aware of the dangers of transporting killer diseases. One must always look for perfect stock, be careful to remove all soil meticulously, trim outer leaves and carefully inspect for parasites, eggs etc and be prepared to junk the plant if not perfect. I always only transported rare greenhouse plants that were going to be in a closed environment. Not plants that were allowed out to run riot in a place with no know predators such as prickly pear in Australia.! (Taken as a pot plant by a Victorian clergyman’s wife in the 1800s!)

    I regularly steal cuttings from Canada but as they have the same climate as here and are contiguous, no real harm done. I particularly like stealing from the Governor General’s garden. Trouble is when people who do not know what they are doing or the risks therein get to move things without due care and attention. Look at the amount of disease moved by the professionals! DEFRA do not seem to have any idea what they are doing the amount of diseased stock they have let in to the UK. The latest Ash tree disease as a case in point!

    Jazz I do hope you have foisted off cuttings of this inherited gem on your progeny! Continuity is all!

  2. Jazz, is this the same as the w. jew, inthe PC age?

    Well I’ve always known it as Wandering Sailor (since before the days of PC) but online it seems more frequently to be called Wandering Jew.

    I wasn’t trying not to offend anyone. :j

  3. It is Tradescantia, Jazz, Tina is quite right. It’s probably the only houseplant I can correctly identify. I’ve owned one for years from a cutting which my mother gave me, which came from a plant she had for years too. They are almost indestructible which is a requirement in this household because I tend to neglect them!

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