Tradescantia fluminensis


fluminensis: From the Latin flumen 'river and -ensis 'origin', meaning growing near rivers

Common Name(s)

wandering Jew


Tradescantia fluminensis Velloso



Flora Category

Vascular - Exotic

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Monocotyledonous Herbs


Terrestrial. A lowland plant of sites with moderate fertility. Can rapidly invade light gaps but prefers cool moist and shaded conditions. Thrives in forest, scrub and forest margins, cliffs, bluffs, and riverbed communities.


Trailing perennial with succulent stems, rooting readily at nodes. Forms a carpet up to 50cm thick. Alternate leaves 3-6 cm long, ovate-elliptic, shining and loosely clasping the stem. Leaves are typically dark green, but can have longitudinal stripes and/or purplish bases, these forms typically revert to green. The flowers are in clusters, are star-shaped and have 3 delicate white petals that are 10mm long. Seed not seen in NZ.

Similar Taxa

There are other species of Tradescantia in cultivation but none as widespread as T. fluminensis. T. zebrinus Bosse is green and white striped with deep purple undersides. T. cerinthoides Kunth is shortly creeping, and rather succulent. The stems are usually semi-erect. The stems are dark purple, the leaves are dark green often striped purple or completely purple. The leaves are very hairy on the undersides


December, January

Flower Colours


Year Naturalised




Reason For Introduction


Life Cycle Comments

Perennial. Vegetatively reproduces from adventitious roots on branching stems and fragmentation. No seed is produced in New Zealand.

Fragments are dispersed by water, stock and humans (through dumping of garden rubbish, soil movement, pot plants and deliberate planting)


Very tolerant to shade. Experimentally shown to grow at irradience levels 1-90% normal daylight over most of the year (Maule et al., 1995) and in poor drainage. Is intolerant to frost, but can quickly recover, or survive under trees etc where frosts are lighter. Resprouts from shoot fragments after physical damage and grazing (Timmins & MacKenzie 1995).

Technique 1:

Roll up (like a carpet) or rake working towards the centre to avoid spreading fragments. This technique is usually only effective for small infestations and is best done during a drought period. Dispose of all material by burying (deeply) or burning or at a refuse transfer station. Dropped fragments can easily spread the infestation so care is needed when moving weed material. Spraying is also recommended once clearance by this technique is complete just to make sure of control (see below). 

Technique 2.

Spray using triclopyr 600 EC (6ml/L + penetrant) or Yates Hydrocotyle Killer (30ml/L + penetrant) or triclopyr 300 EC (12ml/L). This will result in a kill rate > 90%. Follow up is recommended approximately 2-3 months later before the plant recovers. In most cases up to 3 treatments will be needed.

Technique 3.

Weed wipe using triclopyr 600 EC (250ml/L + penetrant) or triclopyr 300 EC (500ml/L) and follow up as above. 

Technique 4.

Spray using glyphosate (20ml/L + penetrant) or triclopyr 600 EC (3ml/L + penetrant) or Yates Hydrocotyl Killer (15ml/L + penetrant). ollow up is recommended approximately 2-3 months later before the plant recovers. In most cases up to 3 treatments will be needed.

This page last updated on 1 Dec 2014