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Tradescantia fluminensis

Perennial creeping herb, with salient nodes and bright dark green leaves.

Scientific nameTradescantia fluminensis Velloso.

Common names: wandering Jew, white-flowered spiderwort, small-leaf spiderwort, wandering creeper


Status in Portugalinvasive species (listed in the annex I of Decreto-Lei n° 565/99, of 21 December)

Risk Assessment score: (in development)

SynonymyTradescantia albiflora Kunth

Last update: 11/07/2014

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How to recognise it

Perennial creeping herb with long stems, that fragment somewhat easily and root on the nodes.

Leaves: from 3-8 cm, ovate to oblong-ovateacute, somewhat succulent, bright green on the upper surface and sometime purplish on the lower surface.

Flowers: white or light purple, with 7-12 mm, with small groups of flowers; slim pedicels.

Fruitscapsules with 3 valves that contain black seeds.

Flowering: May to July.


Similar species

In Portugal there are several cultivars of different colours, but they all belong to the same species.


Characteristics that aid invasion

It propagates vegetatively; small stem fragments, that include one or more nodes that easily root and originate a new plant.

It also propagates by seed, although less frequently.

Native distribution area

South America (from the southeast of Brazil to Argentina).


Distribution in Portugal

Mainland Portugal (Minho, Douro Litoral, Beira Litoral, Beira Alta, Estremadura, Alto Alentejo, Baixo Alentejo), Madeira archipelago (Madeira islands).


geographic areas where there are records of Tradescantia fluminensis

Other places where the species is invasive

Countries of southern Europe (Spain, France, Italy), USA (Florida), Australia, New Zealand, several islands of the Pacific.


Introduction reasons

For ornamental purposes.


Preferential invasion environments

Shadedand humid places, being very common on the understory of managed forests, natural woods, riparian areas, disturbed and urban areas. It continues to be planted in gardens.

Although it develops better in shadedareas, it also appears in locations with light and a lot of nitrates.

It doesn’t tolerate ice and droughts diminish its vigour.

Impacts on ecossystems

It is a persistent species that forms continuous mats, impeding the development of native vegetation (mainly herbaceous.


Economic impacts

High costs in the application of control methodologies.


Natura 2000 network habitats more subject to impacts

– Arborescent matorral with Laurus nobilis (5230);
– Sub-Atlantic and medio-European oak or oak-hornbeam forests of the Carpinion betuli (9160).

Controlling an invasive species demands a well-planned management, which includes the determination of the invaded area, identifying the causes of invasion, assessing the impacts, defining the intervention priorities, selecting the adequate control methodologies and their application. Afterwards it is fundamental to monitor the efficiency of the methodologies and recuperation of the intervened area as to perform, whenever necessary, the follow-up control.

The control methodologies used for Tradescantia fluminensis include:


Physical control

Hand pulling: preferential methodology for small invaded areas. In more compacted substrates, hand pulling must be made during the rainy as to facilitate the removal of the root system. As much as possible, it should be guaranteed that there are no large fragments left in the ground.

Soil Solarisation. It’s an alternative to hand pulling, mainly in extensive areas that are invaded by the species. It should be guaranteed that no native species are affected .

Chemical control

Foliar application of herbicide. Spray with herbicide (active substance: glyphosatetriclopyr) limiting its application to the target species.

CABI (2012) Tradescantia fluminensis. In: invasive">Invasive species">Species Compendium. CAB International, Wallingford, UK. Available: http://www.cabi.org/isc/ [Retrieved 10/11/2012].

Gallastegui MH, Prieto JAC (2010) Flora alóctona invasora en BizkaiaInstituto para la Sostenibilidad de Bizkaia, Vizkaya, 196pp.

Marchante E, Freitas H, Marchante H (2008) Guia prático para a identificação de plantas invasoras de Portugal Continental. Imprensa a Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, 183pp.

USDA, NRCS. (2012) The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.  Available: http://plants.usda.gov [Retrieved 10/11/2012].