Vascular – Exotic
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.
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.
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
Perennial. 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)
Vegetatively reproduces from adventitious roots on branching stems and fragmentation.
Reason for introduction
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).
fluminensis: From the Latin flumen ‘river and -ensis ‘origin’, meaning growing near rivers
See the Weedbusters website for detailed descriptions of various control techniques.