called Wandering Jew or Creeping
Tradescantia, or Trad, comes from South America but
it has become widely established in our Sydney bushland, especially through the
dumping of garden refuse. This succulent herb grows very quickly and spreads
over the ground forming a dense mat. As you may have noticed, it very
effectively smothers all other small plants!
Little wonder it is such a
fierce competitor when it will tolerate full sun, full shade, nutrient enriched
soils and damp places. On top of all this, any tiny sections left lying on the
ground will usually root at each node to carry on the fight!
This weed has long brittle, succulent
and trailing stems. The leaves are a shiny mid to dark green up to six
centimetres long and have very well defined nodes. They often have a few fine
hairs at the base. The small white star-like flowers form a cluster at the end
of the stem.
Trad is from the Commelinaceae family and is in fact often
confused with the native ground cover, Commelina cyanea, especially if they are
growing together. However, the flowers of Commelina are bright blue, and the
roots are thick and fleshy compared to the weed species. Another clue is their
habitat. Commelina generally prefers fairly sunny positions and will not grow in
deep shade like the Trad does. The leaves of Commelina tend to be longer and narrower, whereas Trad has more crowded, slightly rounder leaves. It can be hard to distinguish, so if in doubt, wait for the flowers.
Control & Removal Methods
Trying to remove
this weed is tricky because the stem breaks so easily at the nodes. All parts of
the plant must be removed by hand pulling or raking, and even when you’re sure
you have them all, it’s worth checking again! On hard surfaces it may be rolled
up like a carpet. Herbicide is not usually effective.
So don’t expect
miracles straight away as it is very difficult to completely disengage Trad on
your first attempt. Follow up weeding will be necessary, however it is well
worth the effort!
Composting Trad is always effective, or bag it and put
it out for the Council’s Green Waste collection.