The Wandering Jew

Tradescantia zebrina

Amid the burgeoning hulk of snarled branches lies the secret to this popular houseplant’s namesake—the pervasive medieval legend of Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew. As an ornamental hanging plant, a decorative ground cover sown beneath park benches, a wild trailing decumbent found along forest floors on at least four continents, and as the protagonist in a recurring folktale of a man doomed to an eternal life of peregrination, the wandering Jew bewilders novice green thumbs and anthropomorphizes the Jewish Diaspora.

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—Brian H. Kehrl

Brian H. Kehrl, the former editor of Sifter magazine, is an unemployed journalist living on Cape Cod.

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