Perennial herb with short, stout stem nearly hidden by overlapping leaf bases. Forms clumps by offshoots from fleshy rootstock.
Spreading-erect, closely overlapping in spiral pattern. Blades broadly linear, sharp-tipped, waxy, stiff, somewhat fleshy, 15–30 cm (6–12 in) long and 2.5–8 cm (1–3 in) wide; upper surfaces dark green or green with pale yellow stripes; lower surfaces usually purple.
Small, white, clustered within a folded, boat-shaped bract (spathe) 3–4 cm long, short-stalked from leaf axils. Three petals, 6 stamens with hairy stalks.
A 2-seeded capsule, in clusters within the bract.
Forms dense ground cover and clumps quickly. Has escaped into coastal tropical hammocks, where the dense cover pre-vents seedling growth of native canopy tree species. FLEPPC Category I
Tradescantia spathacea (syn. Rhoeo spathacea) is rarely found growing in the disturbed sites of Lee, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. It is native to tropical America but escaped from cultivation. Oyster plant blooms all year.
View more information and pictures about oyster plant, as contained in the Langeland/Burks book, Identification & Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas.
1. Invasive and Non-native Plants You Should Know - Recognition Cards, by A. Richard and V. Ramey. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 431. 2007.
2. 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.
3. 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.