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  • Tradescantia spathacea (Syn: Rhoeo spathodea) flowers (Photo: Gerald Carr)
  • Tradescantia spathacea (Syn: Rhoeo spathodea) flowers are white, hidden in a purple boat-shaped bract (Photo: Gerald Carr)
  • Tradescantia spathacea. Rhoeo spathodea is a synonym (Photo: Gerald Carr)
  • Tradescantia spathacea (Syn: Rhoeo spathodea) flowers and leaves (Photo: Gerald Carr)
  • Tradescantia spathacea invading forest understory on Mau`ke, Cook Islands (Photo: Jim Space, www.hear.org/pier)
Common name
riri raei (English, Cook Islands), moses in a boat (English), riri mangio (English, Cook Islands), oyster plant (English), boat lily (English), Moses-in-a-basket (English, Hawaii), talotalo, laupapaki (English, Niue), faina kula (English, Tonga), boat plant (English)
Rhoeo discolor , Hance ex Walp
Rhoeo spathacea , (Sw.) Stear
Tradescantia discolor , L'Hér.
Rhoeo spathacea , (Sw.) Stearn
Rhoeo spathacea , (Sw.) Stearn forma concolor (Baker) Stehle
Rhoeo spathacea , (Sw.) Stearn forma variegata(Hook) Stehle
Tradescantia discolor , L'Hér. var. concolor Baker
Tradescantia discolor , L'Hér. var. variegata Hook.
Tradescantia discolor , L'Hér.
Rhoeo discolor , (L'Hér.) Hance
Similar species
Tradescantia spathacea is a beautiful succulent that has been introduced to south Asia and many Pacific Islands from its native range in the tropical Americas. Although it has not yet been declared a pest, in many areas it has become a very invasive weed, especially in Florida where it invades and disrupts native plant communities. Tradescantia spathacea creates a dense groundcover on the forest floor which prevents native plants from germinating. Tradescantia spathacea has diverse reproductive methods and grows in areas other plants cannot. These two characteristics make this plant a potential danger to many areas. Monitoring is recommended wherever this species is present.
Species Description
\"Rosette-forming succulent herb, stems short, leaves crowded, elongate, broadly linear-lanceolate, up to 30-40cm long and 4-6cm wide, the upper surface green, the lower surface rich reddish-purple; inflorescence axillary, short; bracts subsessile, boat-shaped; flowers white; petals 3; stamens 6, ovary 3-celled, cells 1-ovulate; fruit capsular 3-valved; seeds rugose\" (Stone, 1970. in PIER, 2002).
Widely planted as an ornamental, often in cemetaries (PIER, 2002). The sap may cause brief stinging and itching of the skin to some people, and when eaten, oysterplant will cause severe burning pain in the mouth and throat. Relatively tolerant of the allelopathic chemicals (compounds that prevent other plants from growing) put out by Australian pine (Floridata.com).
Primarily grown for bedding, rock gardens, and tropical effects. The reddening effect of the irritating juice has been used for cheek colouring also, (Floridata.com). The flower is used medicinally for the treatment of dysentery, enterorrhagia and hemoptysis (Brach).
Habitat Description
Prefers well-drained sites and will grow well on rocks (PIER, 2002). Although it likes soil with substantial organic matter, oysterplant will grow in sand or even coral rock (Floridata.com). It is drought resistant, Likes shade and will invade the forest understory (PIER, 2002).
T. spathacea can reproduce by seeds, cuttings, and discarded plants (PIER, 2002). Broken pieces will resprout easily (Floridata.com). Tradescantia spathacea flowers all year round, and is pollinated by insects, or self-pollinated (Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, 2000).

Principal source: Pacific Island Ecosystem at Risk (PIER),
Floridata.com L.C. Copyright 1996 - 2002

Compiler: IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)

Review: Anon

Publication date: 2006-03-23

Recommended citation: Global Invasive Species Database (2024) Species profile: Tradescantia spathacea. Downloaded from http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=493 on 22-05-2024.

General Impacts
Can create a dense groundcover that prevents native plants from germinating on the forest floor. (Floridata.com)
Management Info
Preventative measures: Plant cuttings should not be dumped anywhere as this is a frequent source of new weed infestations. The origin of new top soil or fill should be checked as physical transportation of plant segments in soil is a major method of spread.
Countries (or multi-country features) with distribution records for Tradescantia spathacea
Informations on Tradescantia spathacea has been recorded for the following locations. Click on the name for additional informations.
Lorem Ipsum
Location Status Invasiveness Occurrence Source
Details of Tradescantia spathacea in information
Arrival date
Species notes for this location
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Ecosystem services:
Impact information
Can create a dense groundcover that prevents native plants from germinating on the forest floor. (Floridata.com)
Red List assessed species 0:
[5] Competition
[3] Environmental Ecosystem - Habitat
  • [3] Reduction in native biodiversity
[2] Environmental Species - Population
  • [2] Reduces/inhibits the growth of other species
Management information
Preventative measures: Plant cuttings should not be dumped anywhere as this is a frequent source of new weed infestations. The origin of new top soil or fill should be checked as physical transportation of plant segments in soil is a major method of spread.
15 references found for Tradescantia spathacea

Management information
PIER (Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk), 2002. Tradescantia spathacea.
Summary: Ecology, synonyms, common names, distributions (Pacific as well as global), management and impact information.
Available from: http://www.hear.org/pier/species/tradescantia_spathacea.htm [Accessed 25 February 2003].
Varnham, K. 2006. Non-native species in UK Overseas Territories: a review. JNCC Report 372. Peterborough: United Kingdom.
Summary: This database compiles information on alien species from British Overseas Territories.
Available from: http://www.jncc.gov.uk/page-3660 [Accessed 10 November 2009]
General information
Brach, Anthony R. Tradescantia spathacea. Flora of China.
Summary: Description, Distribution and uses of the plant.
Available from: http://flora.huh.harvard.edu:8080/flora/browse.do?flora_id=1&taxon_id=222000433 [Accessed on 25 February 2003].
Conservatoire Botanique National De Mascarin (BOULLET V. coord.) 2007. - Tradescantia spathacea Index de la flore vasculaire de la R�union (Trach�ophytes) : statuts, menaces et protections. - Version 2007.1
Summary: Base de donn�es sur la flore de la R�union. De nombreuses informations tr�s utiles.
Available from: http://flore.cbnm.org/index2.php?page=taxon&num=94cb02feb750f20bad8a85dfe7e18d11 [Accessed 9 April 2008]
Evans TM, Faden RB, Simpson MG and Sytsma KJ, 2000. Phylogenetic relationships in the Commelinaceae: I. A Cladistic analysis of morphological data. Systematic Botany, 25: 668�691.
Factsheet, 2000. Rhoeo spathacea Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida.
Summary: Description, Ecology, History, and Distribution.
Available from: http://aquat1.ifas.ufl.edu/rhospa.pdf [Accessed 28 February 2003].
Faden RB, 1985. Commelinaceae. In: Dahlgren RMT, Clifford HT, Yeo PF, eds. The Families of the Monocotyledons. Berlin, Germany: Springer Verlag.
Faden RB, 1988. Commelinaceae. In: Kubitzki K, ed. The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, Vol. 4. Berlin, Germany: Springer Verlag, 109�128.
Faden RB, Hunt DR, 1991. The classification of the Commelinaceae. Taxon, 40: 19�31.
Floridata.com L.C. Copyright 1996 - 2002.
Summary: Good amount of information on the Spathodea including Description, Locations, Culture, and uses of the plant.
Available from: http://www.floridata.com/ref/s/spat_cam.cfm [Accessed 25 February 2003]
Hofer, Daniel, 18 April 2007. Pers.comm., Invasive in Africa: Tradescantia spathacea
ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System), 2005. Online Database Tradescantia spathacea
Summary: An online database that provides taxonomic information, common names, synonyms and geographical jurisdiction of a species. In addition links are provided to retrieve biological records and collection information from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Data Portal and bioscience articles from BioOne journals.
Available from: http://www.cbif.gc.ca/pls/itisca/taxastep?king=every&p_action=containing&taxa=Tradescantia+spathacea&p_format=&p_ifx=plglt&p_lang= [Accessed March 2005]
Langeland, K.A. and Burks, K. C (Eds) 1998. Identification and Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida s Natural Areas, University of Florida. Tradescantia spathacea
Summary: Information on plants that pose threats to natural resource areas in Florida.
Available from: http://www.fleppc.org/ID_book/Rhoeo%20spathacea.pdf [Accessed 30 December 2004]
Research Institute for Bioresources, Okayama University. Plant List: Naturalized plants from foreign country into Japan.
Summary: Includes list of naturalised plants in Japan.
Available from: http://www.rib.okayama-u.ac.jp/wild/kika/kika_table.htm
The following 1 contacts offer information an advice on Tradescantia spathacea
Geographic region: Pacific, Indian Ocean
Ecosystem: Terrestrial
Expert in the botany of French Polynesia and the Pacific Islands, and has worked on ecology and biological control of Miconia calvescens in French Polynesia.
D�l�gation � la Recherche
D�l�gation � la Recherche, Gouvernement de Polyn�sie fran�aise. B.P. 20981, 98713 Papeete, Tahiti, Polyn�sie fran�aise
689 47 25 60
Tradescantia spathacea
riri raei, moses in a boat, riri mangio, oyster plant, boat lily, Moses-in-a-basket, talotalo, laupapaki, faina kula, boat plant
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Recommended citation
(2024). Tradescantia spathacea. IUCN Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa (EICAT).