Wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminensis)

Photo: (c) Forest and Kim Starr

(Formally known as Tradescantia albiflora)
Family: Commelinaceae

Growth Habit: Wandering Jew is a very common weed, an aggressive scrambling creeper that can smother other plants as it forms a mat-like cover of the ground it occupies. It has smooth, dark green, spear-shaped leaves with parallel veins, more or less evenly spread along fragile, but partially fleshy stems. The stems form ground cover or climb over rocks, plants, logs, etc.

Type of Plant: Sprawling, fleshy, perennial plant that may also produce erect stems.

Flowers: Small, white three petalled flowers about 2 cm in diameter, which appear in summer in clusters at the end of the stems. These flowers have yellow tipped stamens.

Dispersal: It has trailing succulent stems which root at the nodes and form new plants. It can also reproduce from stem fragments broken from the parent plant.

Distribution: A garden escapee which thrives in moist, shady places.

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania

Weed Impact:

  • It competes with other species as it dominates the soil surface.
  • Reduces diversity of native plants.
  • Smothers gardens.
  • Well known to cause allergic reactions to dogs.

For further information contact the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania.

Control Methods:

  • Grubbing. Take care to remove entire plant. To dispose, burn or place in a heavy-duty plastic bag and seal.
  • Do not dump, as this plant can reroot after initial removal and can cause serious problems in natural areas.
  • Herbicide. Spot spray. Herbicides registered in Tasmania include metsulfuron and glyphosate.

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.