Wandering jew

Native to South America, wandering jew is a fleshy-leaved creeping plant that grows as a ground cover.

When it escapes into bushland, wandering jew smothers and crowds out native plants. It is considered a major environmental weed in subtropical and temperate rainforests.

Wandering jew is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Tradescantia fluminensis

Description

  • Creeping ground cover succulent.
  • Stems are soft, easily broken, will root at any node on surface
  • Leaves are oval, dark green, shiny, 5-10mm long.
  • Leaf blades are 3-6.5cm long, 1-3cm wide, with parallel veins covered with small hairs.
  • Flowers are small, white, 2cm across, with yellow-tipped stamens and 3 petals each 7-10mm long.
  • Seeds are not produced, spread is vegetative.

Habitat

  • Establishes in moist, shady areas.

Distribution

  • Infestations up to 1m deep found in north Queensland rainforests.

Life cycle

  • Flowers appear mainly in spring.
  • Reproduces via stolons, seeds and tubers.

Affected animals

  • Dogs

Impacts

Environmental

  • Out-competes native vegetation along streams and gullies.
  • Covers ground by sending out roots at each nodal point.

Social

  • Causes dermatitis in dogs that roll in it.

How it is spread

  • Spread by water, machinery, vehicles and dumped garden waste.

Control

Physical control

  • Hand-pulling to remove whole plant (including roots and nodes) is effective but labour-intensive.

Herbicide control

  • Herbicides are effective.

See the Wandering jew fact sheet (PDF, 987KB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No biological control agent available in Australia.

Legal requirements

  • Wandering jew is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information