Tradescantia spathacea

Tradescantia spathacea

Synonym: Rhoeo spathacea

Common Names: Moses in a Basket, Boat Lily, Oyster Plant

Family: Commelinaceae

Habit: Tradescantia spathacea grows as a low herbaceous slightly succulent to 20 cm in height with the leaves surpassing the stem length and setting pups at the base forking large masses.  The adaxially green and abaxially purple leaves are arranged alternately but appear clustered, to 40 cm in length and 6 cm wide, elongate, with parallel veins, an entire margin and acuminate leaf apex. The leaf base is clasping and overlaps other leaves.

The complete, perfect, actinomorphic flowers are arranged in sessile many flowered umbels that is subtended by bracts. The calyx has 3 unfused, green, sepals.  The corolla has 3 white petals. There are 6 unfused, pubescent stamens.  The ovary is superior and has 3 locules and 3 ovules. The fruit is a capsule.

Habitat: Tradescantia spathacea grows in Human Altered environments (yards and gardens) but does escape into Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formations – Forest/Shrublands (coppice).

Distribution: Tradescantia spathacea is NOT native to the Lucayan Archipelago.  It is native to Mexico and Central America but is now widespread in tropical and subtropical regions.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Tradescantia spathacea is not known to be used medicinally in the Lucayan Archipelago.

It is grown as an ornamental but escapes cultivation into natural areas as a weed.