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Small-Leaf Spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis Vell.)

Also known as wandering Jew.

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Range - Expand

Introduced or Not Present

This tentative map is based on our own research. It may have limited data on Canada and/or Mexico, and there is some subjectivity in our assignment of plants as introduced vs. expanded. Read more in this blog post.


The habitat preferences of this plant in North America are not well-known. Its northward spread is limited by cold temperatures, and it is limited by drought and lack of moisture availability in the more arid regions of the country, leading it to be most vigorous only in a zone from Florida west to East Texas, and also in California.

Where this species has established in Texas, it has often been distributed by flooding capturing potted nursery plants.

Relative to native vegetation, this species tends to be much more shade-tolerant, but less drought-tolerant, and it can be eliminated by drought.


As with any invasive plant, the best control is prevention. This plant is in the earlier stages of establishing in the wild in much of the US, so prevention is more likely to be effective.

Best practice is to never place this plant outdoors anywhere in the warmer regions of the US where it might have a chance of surviving in the wild. The weakest point is often retail nurseries, which stock and sell this plant in pots that are often placed outdoors. It is safest if the pots are kept indoors and it is especially important that they are kept out of floodplains where flooding might carry away pots and transport them downstream, as flooding events capturing pots from retail nurseries are the main source of this plant establishing in the wild, probably more important than individual garden escapes.


This species is widely grown as a houseplant, and people sometimes plant it outdoors in the warmer parts of the country. It can be invasive, however, in these areas so it is best to avoid planting this plant outdoors. Cultivated plants, which are usually variegated, tend to result to the wild-type all-green form over time, which increases their vigor.


This is one of several plants called "wandering Jew"; we recommend avoiding the use of this common name both because some people find it offensive, and also because it is ambiguous, also referring to a staggering array of other related plants, including inchplant (Tradescantia zebrina), purple queen (Tradescantia pallida), jio (Commelina benghalensis), creeping saxifrage (Saxifraga stolonifera), and some other plants that do not occur in North America, including Commelina africana, Commelina cyanea, and Commelina ensifolia, and Tinantia pringlei which only occurs in Mexico.

The name "small-leaf spiderwort" is unambiguous, only referring to this species, and is also more descriptive because this species belongs to the Tradescantia genus, which are consistently referred to as spiderworts, and this is usually the only genus referred to by this name.

Tradescantia fluminensis (small-leaf spiderwort) | USDA PLANTS Database (About This Site)

Small-Leaf Spiderwort | iNaturalist (About This Site)

Tradescantia fluminensis (Small-Leaf Spiderwort) | Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder (About This Site)

Tradescantia fluminensis (wandering Jew) | CABI Invasive Species Compendium (About This Site)

Tradescantia fluminensis | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

Tradescantia fluminensis | NatureServe Explorer (About This Site)

Tradescantia fluminensis | Flora of North America (About This Site)