Tradescantia fluminensis

Small-leaf spiderwort

Nonnative to FloridaFISC Category 1 Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: South America

Introduced as an ornamental. It is also a serious invader in New Zealand where it was first introduced in 1910 for bank stabilization and has escaped cultivation in many other countries. It is very shade resistant and thrives in damp soils. Once established, it is very difficult to control.

Species Characteristics

Family: Commelinaceae

Habit: Creeping, trailing, subsucculent perennial herb, much branched, with branch tips erect; often forming dense ground cover; prostrate stems rooting freely at nodes.

Leaves: parallel-veined, alternate, simple, all glossy green or tinged with purple below; leaf blades arising from short, closed shealths (tops often ciliate); blades to 5 cm (2 in) long and 2 cm (0.75 in) wide, oblong to ovate, with tips pointed; glabrous or with ciliate margins.

Flowers: white, in small clusters at small tips, subtended by 1-3 leaflike bracts similar in size and form to stem leaves; 3 sepals and petals, separate; sepals usually with a line of hairs; 6 stamens, white bearded (pilose).

Fruit/Seeds: small, 3 parted capsules; seeds black, pitted.

Distribution in Florida: throughout.


Spreads both via seed and fragmentation. Invades disturbed areas, natural forests, riparian zones, urban areas, hammocks, and wetlands. The growth habit is such that it will form a dense groundcover and smother the native groundcover and seedlings. It also alters litter decomposition and nutrient cycling affecting ecological succession.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Do not plant.


Remove in landscapes and replace with native groundcover. Hand pull small infestations, being certain to remove all fragments, as these will reroot and reinfest an area. Cattle and chickens will eat T. fluminensis.


None known.


1–2% Garlon 3A. Dense mats may require re-treatment. This species is exceptionally frustrating due to its rapid recovery from seed. Consult your local UF IFAS Extension for further assistance with management recommendations. Additional information can be found in the EDIS Publication Integrated Management of Non-Native Plants in Natural Areas of Florida.

Learn more about this species

UF IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas

FLIP: Tradescantia fluminensis

Atlas of Florida Plants


USDA Plant Database

Invasive Species Compendium

View records and images from University of Florida Herbarium