Common names: Spider Plant, Spider Ivy, Ribbon Plant, Hen and Chickens
Taxonomic name: Chlorophytum comosum
Uses: Food, air cleaner
Area of origin: South Africa
Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are also known as Spider Ivy, Ribbon Plant, and Hen and Chickens. The first three names are clearly from the form of the plant but the third pertains to the fact that the main plant (the Hen) has lots of little baby plants (the Chickens) that grow at the end of the flowering stems.
These evergreen, perennial plants can grow up to 60 cm tall, but the hanging parts it can descend much further. The long narrow leaves reach a length of up to 45 cm and are around 6–25 mm wide.
Flowers are produced in a long, branched inflorescence, which can reach a length of up to 75 cm (30 in) and eventually bends downwards to meet the earth. Flowers initially occur in clusters of 1–6 at intervals along the stem. Some branches carry small plantlets at their tips. If allowed, these will eventually drop to the ground and set root, starting new plants.
It has fleshy, tuberous roots, each about 5–10 cm long. These are palatable when cooked but nondescript, flavourwise wen raw. Young leaves and whole plantlets can be steamed or boiled to provide an adequate green vegetable.
In addition to their use as a food, Spider Plants are excellent at cleaning the air, especially inside of the house. The NASA Clean Air Study determined that this plant was effective at removing common household air toxins formaldehyde and xylene.
The spider plant is also good for people who suffer from allergies or hay fever because it can help remove allergens in the air, including dust mites, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, and more.
Spider plants can absorb ozone from the air because the leaves have a porous structure that allows for gas exchange. Ozone negatively affects spider plants, causing brown spots on the plant’s leaves which reduce the plant’s ability to photosynthesize.