Fine Art

Tradescantia pallida

Tradescantia pallida, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Cladus: Commelinids
Ordo: Commelinaless

Familia: Commelinaceae
Subfamilia: Commelinoideae
Tribus: Tradescantieae
Subtribus: Tradescantiinae
Genus: Tradescantia
Sectio: T. sect. Setcreasea
Species: Tradescantia pallida

Tradescantia pallida (Rose) D.R.Hunt, Kew Bull. 30(3): 453. 1975.

Setcreasea pallida Rose, Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 13: 294. 1911.

Tradescantia velutina L.Linden, Gard. Chron., ser. 3, 13: 475 (1893), nom. illeg.
Tradescantia striata Mottet, Dict. Prat. Hort. 5: 307 (1898-1899).
Setcreasea jaumavensis Matuda, Anales Inst. Biol. Univ. Nac. México 26: 59 (1955).
Setcreasea purpurea Boom, Acta Bot. Neerl. 4: 167 (1955).
Setcreasea lanceolata Faruqi, Mehra & Celarier, Rhodora 64: 330 (1962).

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Regional: Mexico

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Hunt, D.R. (1975) Kew Bulletin 30(3): 453.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2019. Tradescantia pallida in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 October 31. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2019. Tradescantia pallida. Published online. Accessed: October 31 2019. 2019. Tradescantia pallida. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 October 31.
USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. [1]

Vernacular names
English: wandering Jew, purple heart, purple queen
magyar: Bíbor pletyka
日本語: ムラサキゴテン

Tradescantia pallida is a species of spiderwort (a genus of New World plants) similar to T. fluminensis and T. zebrina. Common names include purple secretia, purple-heart,[2] and purple queen.[3] It is native to the Gulf Coast region of eastern Mexico. Edward Palmer collected the type specimen near Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas in 1907.[4][5]


The Latin specific epithet pallida means "pale".[6]

Tradescantia pallida is an evergreen perennial plant of scrambling stature. It is distinguished by elongated, pointed leaves - themselves glaucous green, fringed with red or purple - and bearing small, sterile three-petaled flowers of white, pink or purple. Plants are top-killed by moderate frosts, but will often sprout back from roots.[7]

Widely used as an ornamental plant in gardens and borders, as a ground cover, hanging plant, or - particularly in colder climates where it cannot survive the winter season - houseplant, it is propagated easily by cuttings (the stems are visibly segmented and roots will frequently grow from the joints).

As a houseplant, T. pallida has been judged exceptionally effective at improving indoor air quality by filtering out volatile organic compounds, a class of common pollutants and respiratory irritants, an effect known as phytoremediation.[8]

Numerous cultivars are available, of which 'Purpurea' with purple foliage has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[9][10]

Leaves, superior aspect

Leaves, inferior aspect


Close-up shot of flower


"Tradescantia pallida". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2011-11-20.
BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
"Tradescantia pallida". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
"Tradescantia pallida". EOL. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
"Tradescantia pallida" at the Encyclopedia of Life
Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for Gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 978-1845337315.
Duever, Linda Conway (2006-08-31). "#734 Tradescantia pallida". Floridata.
Yang, Dong Sik, Pennisi, Svoboda V., Son, Ki-Cheol, Kays, Stanley J. Screening Indoor Plants for Volatile Organic Pollutant Removal Efficiency. HortScience, Published online 1 August 2009; in print 44: 1377-1381 (2009)
"Tradescantia pallida 'Purpurea'". RHS. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
"AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 102. Retrieved 24 December 2018.

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