Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from South America, Wandering Trad (Tradescantia fluminensis) is a perennial, semi-succulent, shinny green, short, erect, ground cover, with small white flowers.
  • Smothers native and garden vegetation and prevents regeneration of all plants.
  • Every fragment of stem can potentially regrow and needs to be removed and destroyed off-site.
  • It is difficult to remove because the stems snap off easily leaving segments that can regenerate.
  • It causes allergic reactions on the skin of humans and dogs.
  • Small infestation can be removed by hand but all stems and roots must be removed to prevent re-growth
  • Spraying with herbicides and a penetrate will work eventually, but repeat follow-up treatments is required for regrowth.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Wandering Trad (Tradescantia fluminensis) is a perennial (long lived), semi-succulent, shiny-green,  trailing to erect herb. Stems develop roots at the nodes (the part of a stem where leaves or branches arise.) along its hairless and somewhat succulent stem. The leaves clasp the stem and are alternately arranged. They are ovate (shaped like a section through the long axis of an egg and attached by the wider end) to narrow ovate, with a pointed tip, 2.5–5.5 cm long and 1–2.5 cm wide, with a prominent middle vein and less distinct parallel veins on either side.

The flowers are white, about 1 cm across, arranged in small groups and have three pointed white petals broadly ovate to elliptic (oval), 7–10 mm long. Stamens  (pollen bearing stalks, male parts) are free, filaments white, woolly to bearded at the base, stamens are yellow tipped .

Fruit are not formed in Australia (Walsh & Entwistle 1994; Harden 2007; Miles undated).

For further information and assistance with identification of Wandering Trad, contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Wandering Trad is a weed of forests, forest margins, urban bushland, open woodlands, riparian vegetation, roadsides, ditches, waste areas, disturbed sites and gardens. It prefers damp and shaded areas in temperate and sub-tropical regions, but will also grow in more open habitats and in tropical regions. It prefers shaded moist situations, such as wet sclerophyll forest, rainforest, riparian vegetation and creek banks (Harden 2007). It will also establish in open sunny positions, but its growth is slow unless soil moisture levels are high (Muyt 2001). It is frost tender (Blood 2001). 

Are there similar species?

There are a number of species of native and introduced plants that can be confused with Wandering Trad. Commelina and Aneilema species have very similar foliage, and flowers are needed for positive identification. The flowers of Aneilema (white) and Commelina (blue) have three fertile stamens with pollen and three stamens without pollen, whereas Wandering Trad has six fertile stamens.

Species of the native grass Oplismenus may appear similar to Wandering Trad when not in flower, but they have smaller, narrower leaves that are hairy. The native orchid species Cheirostylis ovata and Zeuxine oblonga may also appear similar when not in flower.

Tradescantia zebrina, T. pallida and T. cerinthoides [as T. blossfeldiana] are garden species that have naturalised in some areas, but they differ from Wandering Trad in having leaves that are purplish underneath (Walsh & Entwisle 1994; Harden 2007).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Wandering Trad out-competes native vegetation and smothers the ground by sending out roots at each node (leaf joint).  

Native ecosystems: Wandering Trad is a major weed in gardens and greenhouses. It forms dense mats up to 60 cm deep with stems up to 4 m long (Blood 2001). It also smothers native vegetation and prevents regeneration of all plants. It completely dominates the ground layer, preventing the germination of shrub and tree species (Muyt 2001). Research in New Zealand found that a dramatic decrease in species richness and abundance of native seedlings could be attributed to an increase in Wandering Trad biomass and a consequent decrease in light availability (Standish et al. 2001). The plant prevents regeneration of trees and shrubs, increases litter decomposition, altering nutrient cycling and inhibit germination of native species.  Can be found growing in the understory of disturbed forests, along roadsides, riparian areas and coastal forests. They are also common on old home sites and once established have the potential to grow forming a dense ground cover or “bed” in the understory (Brisbane City Council 2021). 

Human and agriculture impacts: Wandering Trad causes allergic reactions on the skin of humans and especially dogs, and has been reported as toxic to cattle (Blood 2001). Mats growing on riverbanks can break away with water flow and contribute to flooding.

How does it spread?

Wandering Trad does not set seed in Australia. All spread occurs from stem segments that will readily take root when in contact with the soil. Stem fragments easily break off and may be dispersed by water, vehicles, machinery such as lawn mowers and slashers, in dumped garden waste or in contaminated soil through soil movement. Stem segments can survive for a year without roots or contact with the soil (Blood 2001; Muyt 2001). 

What is its history in Australia?

Wandering Trad was almost certainly introduced into Australia as a plant for a pot or the garden (Sutherland Shire Council 2003).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Chemical control: Spraying with selective or non-selective herbicides will work eventually, but repeat treatments of regrowth will be needed. Plants should not be under any moisture stress when sprayed. Surfactants (wetting agents that lower the surface tension of a liquid, allowing easier spreading) will improve penetration into the waxy-coated leaves (Miles undated).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for further chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au.

Non-chemical control: Small infestations of Wandering Trad can be removed by hand or by raking and rolling up the stems (Muyt 2001). Very small infestations can be dug out, but every fragment of stem can potentially regrow and therefore needs to be removed and destroyed off-site but manual removal may cause disturbance to the soil profile and stimulate germination of other weed species. In sunny situations, covering the plant with plastic sheeting for six weeks in the warmer months will weaken the plant. After removing the plastic any regrowth can be dug or sprayed. This method will not work in full shade.

Research in New Zealand found that under their climatic conditions the most effective method for sustained control of Wandering Trad, without subsequent invasion of control areas by other weeds, was artificial shading. Efforts to control Wandering Trad by repeated herbicide application or hand weeding resulted in the regrowth of Wandering Trad and invasion by other weeds which hindered native forest regeneration (Standish 2002).

An infestation of Wandering Trad was successfully removed from a large garden in Sydney by intensive use of chickens. The chickens were confined to small areas of the garden beds until the plant was cleared above and below ground. Areas which were not to be cultivated were covered with plastic and mulched. The plastic was removed after six months (Pellow pers. comm. 2007).

Do not dump, as this plant can re-root and establish after initial removal and can cause serious problems in natural areas.

Biological control: A leaf fungus (Kordyana brasiliensis) that attacks leaves of Wandering trad is currently being researched by CSIRO has been trial released in places in Victoria. For information on biological control and this project, please see: CSIRO (2021): Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (2018).

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Wandering Trad flowers mainly in spring and summer, but no viable seeds are produced. Propagation is from stem segments only. There are two stages to its growth, sterile and fertile.  Sterile growth is mainly prostrate, spreading rapidly and rooting at the nodes. Fertile, flowering growth is upright and these stems have a reduced capacity to develop roots. Frost will cause the plant to die back, but any protected stem segments will quickly regenerate (Blood 2001).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Wandering Trad is a relatively widespread species that is found in the south-eastern and eastern parts of the country. It is most common in the coastal regions of New South Wales, Victoria and south-eastern Queensland. It is also present in south-eastern South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, on Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island, and in some inland regions of Victoria (Navie 2004).

Where does it originate?

Wandering Trad is originally from Brazil in South America. It has subsequently spread to many other parts of the world, including New Zealand, south-east Asia, South Africa and North America (Blood 2001).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?

Nor declared in any states or territories. 

Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Tradescantia fluminensis

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

Tradescantia albiflora Kunth (misapplied by Conn, B.J. 1994, Flowering Plants (Magnoliophyta). Flora of Victoria Edn 1. 2: 176, 36a-b.)

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Wandering Jew, Trad, Creeping Christian, Wandering Tradescantia, Water Spiderwort, Wandering Willie, Wandering Creeper

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