Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Tradescantia zebrina Hort. ex Bosse

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
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Flowers. © CSIRO
Herbarium specimen. © CSIRO

Bosse, J.F.W. (1849) Vollst. Handb. Bl.-gartn., ed. 2 4: 655. Type: Mexico (Northern America).


Stems green and purple, creeping over the ground and rooting at the nodes.


Leaf blades 40-90 x 20-33 mm, free petiole nil or very short, sheathing section 7-10 mm long. Leaf blades green on the upper surface except for two silver longitudinal stripes but purple on the underside.


Flowers 10-11 mm diam., subtended by bracts about 3 mm long. Calyx 7-8 mm long overall, tube about 4 mm long, lobes about 3 mm long. Anthers transverse on the filaments, connective extended with an anther sac at each end. Filaments 2-3 mm long, clothed with hairs near the base. Ovary about 1 mm long. Style about 8 mm long. Stigma 3-lobed.


Seeds rugulose.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NEQ, CEQ and in south eastern Queensland. Altitudinal range 10-50 m. A native of Mexico to Columbia now naturalised in NEQ.

Natural History & Notes

Commonly cultivated for its attractive flowers. The leaf is applied to reduce swellings (Wu & Raven 2000). A weed of tropical areas around the world.

Other Tradescantia species have become naturalised in NEQ and CEQ: Tradescantia fluminensis and Tradescantia spathacea.

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