Common Name(s): Small-leaf spiderwort
Non-Native to Florida
Origin: Tropical South America1
This species appears on the following legally prohibited plant lists
UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas
CATEGORY I on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s (FLEPPC) 2017 List of Invasive Plant Species
Download a recognition card (PDF) from Invasive and Non-native Plants You Should Know2
Download a page (PDF) from Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas – Second Edition1
There are many people who are fond of Tradescantia for its multitude of foliage variations and ease of propagation. However in some countries, Tradescantia is considered an agricultural pest. Naturalization of wandering Jew in floodplain forests and bottomlands has occurred from central Florida to the Pan Handle, in counties including Alachua, Orange, Leon, and Flagler. Tradescantia is considered a Category I exotic invasive by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.
Tradescantia is a creeping, succulent, multi-branching perennial herb that can form a dense ground cover and root freely at nodes. Alternate, lanceolate shaped leaves have parallel veins that are either green or tinged with purple. Leaves are also somewhat pubescent. Leaf blades arise from short, closed sheaths and are 2 inches long and 0.75 inches wide. Some are glabrous or have ciliate margins. Flowers are white, in small clusters at stem tips. Fruits are small, 3-parted capsules containing black, pitted seeds.
Reproduction occurs vegetatively from stems that root at the soil surface, or by fragmentation. Fragments may also be dispersed by water. Humans, animals, and machinery facilitate the spread of this invasive species.
Tradescantia will invade disturbed areas, natural forests, riparian zones, urban areas, hammocks, and wetlands. The growth habit of wandering Jew is such that it will form a dense groundcover and smother the native groundcover and seedlings. Once established, Tradescantia is difficult to control.
The first step in preventative control of Tradescantia is to limit planting and removal of existing plants within the landscape. Any fragments should be disposed of properly as to prevent reinfestation.
Cattle and chickens eat T. fluminensis. The planting of trees and other native species will help to out-compete this species.
Hand weeding is suitable for removal of small infestations. Be certain to remove all fragments, as these will reroot and reinfest an area.
There are no known biological agents for Tradescantia control. However in New Zealand and areas where this weed is a problem, investigations are being conducted.
Chemical control by herbicides is considered a practical means of controlling large infestations. Repeat applications may be necessary. Limited research has been conducted but glyphosate or triclopyr at 1-2% are considered the best approach thus far.
References and Useful Links
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Plants Database
Invasive Plants of the Eastern United States
University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants
University of Florida’s Cooperative Extension Electronic Data Information Source
Langeland, K.A. and K. Craddock Burks. 1998. Identification and Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas. IFAS Publication SP 257. University of Florida,
Gainesville. 165 pp.
The Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group. Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER). Plant Threats to Pacific Ecosystems
The Hillsborough County Invasive Species Task Force
Identification and control of non-native invasive plants in the Tampa Bay Area
University of Florida, IFAS Extension, Circular 1529, Invasive Species Management Plans for Florida, 2008 by
Greg MacDonald, Associate Professor Jay Ferrell, Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Specialist
Brent Sellers, Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Specialist
Ken Langeland, Professor and Extension Weed Specialist Agronomy Department, Gainesville and Range Cattle REC, Ona
Tina Duperron-Bond, DPM – Osceola County
Eileen Ketterer-Guest, former Graduate Research Assistant
Description modified January 2014 using Citation #1 below
View more information and pictures about small-leaf spiderwort, as contained in the Langeland/Burks book, Identification & Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas.
View the herbarium specimen image from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects.
1. Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas – Second Edition, by K.A. Langeland, H.M. Cherry, et al. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 257. 2008.
2. Strangers in Paradise, Impact and Management of Nonindigenous Species in Florida, Chapter 2: Florida’s Invasion by Nonindigenous Plants: History, Screening, and Regulation, by D.R. Gordon and K.P. Thomas, pp. 21-37. Island Press, Washington, DC, 1997.
3. Invasive and Non-native Plants You Should Know – Recognition Cards, by A. Richard and V. Ramey. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 431. 2007.
4. Integrated Management of Nonnative Plants in Natural Areas of Florida, by K. A. Langeland, J. A. Ferrell, B. Sellers, G. E. MacDonald, and R. K. Stocker. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 242. 2011.