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Trad

Environmental Weed
Botanical name:
Tradescantia fluminensis 
Special note: The sap can cause dermatitis in humans and dogs

Trad
Photo: Ku-ring-gai Council

Description

Also known as Wandering Jew.

Originating in South America, Trad is a vigorously growing, succulent, spreading groundcover. A familiar but unwelcome intruder along watercourses and in sheltered bushland gullies. This succulent herb prefers moist, nutrient rich habitats. It grows best in damp, shady places, but it also tolerates moderate sunlight.

Alternating dark, shiny leaves with a few hairs at the base and weak roots at each node. The weed has long brittle trailing stems, with prominent leaf nodes which give rise to new plants if pieces are broken off.

White flowers with terminal clusters appearing in spring and summer. Does not produce any viable seed in Australia.

Dispersal

Trad can reproduce from a leaf or stem fragment. It establishes easily when dumped as garden waste, and is readily dispersed by water. A fast grower, Trad scrambles over the ground to form a dense smothering mat.

Impact on bushland

Rapidly carpets the ground layer in gullies, forming a thick blanket which smothers low plants and prevents native plant germination.

Control

Manual:

  • Once established, it is very difficult to eradicate. 
  • The plant is easy to hand pull or rake, but is difficult to completely eradicate on the first attempt.
  • As stems shatter easily, all fragments must be removed to prevent re-shooting. 
  • Because the root system is very shallow, on hard surfaces it may be rolled up like a carpet and bagged for disposal.
  • Repeated weeding will be necessary in most situations.

See Manual Weed Control Techniques.

Chemical: Please contact your local control authority for advice on chemical control.

Similar species

This plant can be confused with the native ground cover, Commelina or Scurvy Weed (Commelina cyanea). Commelina can be identified by its blue flowers and thick, fleshy roots.

Suggested alternatives

  • Native Violet (Viola hederacea)
  • Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)
  • Kidney Weed (Dichondra repens)
  • Commelina - see in the Look-a-likes booklet

References

Weeds of Blue Mountains Bushland, Blue Mountains City Council and NPWS Blue Mountains