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Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Tradescantia fluminensis
wandering Jew


Reproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

Available from Touchwood Books

Tradescantia fluminensis - wandering Jew

Trailing, fleshy-stemmed, frost-tender perennial of shaded damp places, that tends to suppress all other ground cover. White, triangular flowers with three petals. Leaves dark green, shiny, smooth and slightly fleshy, arranged alternately on the stem.

  • Flowers White, triangular, about 2 cm in diameter, with three petals and three green sepals. Each flower is on a slender stalk up to 15 mm long, and the flowers are produced in small clusters at the ends of the stems. Flowers Dec-Jan.
  • Fruit Fruit not seen in NZ.
  • Leaves Dark green, shiny, smooth and somewhat fleshy. Broadly elliptical, 3-6 cm long, with short leaf stalks. Leaves pointed, with parallel veins and hairs on the leaf margins. Leaves abruptly narrowed at the base to a short sheath which loosely clasps the stem.
  • Stems Succulent, trailing, rooting at the nodes, and curved upwards at the tips.
  • Roots The stems produce roots at nodes wherever they contact the ground.


Damp shaded places in gardens, parks, banks, stream-sides and bush reserves.


Common to abundant in frost-free places throughout NI. Found locally in SI, near Westport, Havelock and Rarangi in Marlborough, and in Christchurch in Canterbury.


A serious problem especially in native bush, where it gives a dense ground cover that prevents regeneration of seedlings. This plant does not produce seeds in NZ, and regenerates only from stem fragments. Listed on the National Pest Plant Accord (see Introduction for details).

Derivation of botanical name

Tradescantia for John Tradescant, 17th cent. botanist; fluminensis (Lat.) = from Rio de Janeiro.

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Last updated: July 13, 2014