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Genus Tradescantia Family Commelinaceae

Description: Perennial herbs; stems prostrate, ascending or erect.

Leaves oblong-ovate to linear, glabrous to puberulent or ciliate; sheath short to long.

Inflorescences terminal or axillary, consisting of paired, sessile cymes subtended by 2 leaf-like bracts. Flowers actinomorphic, pedicellate, few–many per cyme. Outer tepals equal or unequal, free or fused, persistent, green or coloured; inner tepals petaloid, subequal, free or fused at the base, blue, pink, purple or white. Stamens equal, filaments bearded or glabrous. Ovary 3-locular, usually with 2 ovules per loculus.

Fruit a papery capsule; seeds smooth or ornamented.

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 70 species, North & South America. Australia: 3 species (naturalized), Qld, N.S.W., Vic., Tas.

In most recent publications, this genus has been expanded to include a number of other genera that have been commonly cultivated (Setcreasea and Zebrina).

Text by Peter G. Wilson
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Tradescantia cerinthoides,    Tradescantia pallida,    Tradescantia spathacea

 Key to the species 
1Leaves green on lower surface; inner tepals free, whiteTradescantia fluminensis
Leaves purple beneath; inner tepals joined into a tube at the base, pinkTradescantia zebrina

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