Wandering Jew

Tradescantia fluminensis Vell.

Synonyms - Tradescantia albiflora

Family: Commelinaceae

Names:

Wandering Jew.

Summary

A perennial, weak stemmed, succulent running herb with parallel veined, spear shaped leaves with hairy bases on stems that root at the nodes. It has small, white, 3 petalled, terminal flowers.

Description

Cotyledons:

One.

Leaves:

Alternate.
Petiole - Sheathing around stem.
Blade - Broadly spear shaped, 20-80 mm long x 10-30 mm wide, shiny, hairless apart from a few fine hairs at the base. Tip pointed. Sides convex. Base tapered to squarish or sheathing. Surface smooth, shiny, somewhat cupped or undulating.
Auricles - None or a tuft of hairs.
Ligule - None.
Sheath - tubular 3-10 mm long. Hairless apart from a few fine hairs near the top rim. Initially green and becoming brown and papery with age.

Stems:

Green to red, striped, branched from the swollen nodes, scrambling, smooth and hairless. Round and solid in cross section, 25- 4000 mm long x 1-8 mm diameter. Nodes often covered by the brown papery sheath remnant left after the leaf blade falls off. Roots form at the nodes.

Flower head:

Terminal clusters.

Flowers:

Bisexual, radially symmetrical (actinomorphic). No stalks. Terminal clusters. Without nectar. Wind pollinated.
Ovary - Superior, 3 joined cells.
Style - Simple, terminal, hollow.
Petals - 3, white. 2 unequal leafy bracts under petals. Pointed tips.
Stamens - 6 in 2 whorls.
Anthers - 2 celled

Fruit:

Capsule

Seeds:

Small.

Roots:

Fine roots on stem nodes.

Key Characters:

Succulent running herb.
No auricles.
No ligule.
Round, solid, striped stems.
Flowers with 3 white petals.

Biology

Life cycle:

Perennial herb.

Morphology:

Running herb.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed and vegetative stem fragments.

Flowering times:

Spring-Summer

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

Freely forms new plants from stem segments that root at the nodes.

Hybrids:

Ecology, Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Origin and History:

South America.

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, TAS, VIC.

Tradescantia albiflora
Courtesy Australia’s Virtual Herbarium.

Tradescantia fluminensis
Courtesy Australia’s Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Moist and shady.

Soil:

Especially abundant along streams.

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Ornamental.

Detrimental:

Weed of damp shaded areas. Garden escape.

Toxicity:

Causes nitrate toxicity in Cattle

Symptoms:

Rapid death, often within a few hours of exposure. Panting, staggering, collapse, little evidence of struggling before death, chocolate coloured blood.

Treatment

Venal injection of 1-2 g of methylene blue in 100-200 mL water for cattle.

Legislation:

Management and Control:

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Scurvy weed (Commelina cyanea and Commelina ensifolia).
Hairy Wandering Jew (Commelina benghalensis).

Plants of similar appearance:

Blue Periwinkle (Vinca major) has blue flowers and is less succulent than Wandering Jew.

References:

Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P20. Photo.

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #1219.1.

McBarron, E.J. (1983). Poisonous plants. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P49. Diagram.

Moore, J.H. (2000).

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.