Tradescantia zebrina (Wandering Jew): Medicinal ornamental plant

Tradescantia zebrina

Tradescantia commonly known as spiderwort are herbaceous perennial plants of the family Commelinaceae. The genus Tradescantia contains around 75 herbaceous species which are either climber or trailer. One of the most common species of tradescantia is Tradescantia zebrina.

This plant T. zebrina is also known as Wandering Jew. The plant is not only a beautiful ornamental plant but also is full of medicinal properties and is used traditionally in many countries for its invaluable medicinal properties. The main pharmacological activities of this plant are possible antioxidant, antibacterial, antitrypanosomal, anti-erythematic, and larvicidal (1).

Botanical description


the plant is a herbaceous plant and can grow up to 30-60 cm with a good spread with fleshy leaves and creeping shoots.

Because of its beautiful foliage and spread it can be used as an ornamental plant and to cover the ground or as a landscaping plant.


Tradescantia zebrina leaves

Leaves are dark violet in the bottom and have wide silver color strips. Generally 3-4.5 cm long.


Tradescantia zebrina flowers

The flowers are purple to pink in color and bloom throughout the year. The flowers are having 6 anthers and rarely 4 or 8 and have characteristic three petals.


Tradescantia zebrina stem

The stems of Tradescantia zebrina are generally green in color with purple spots. It secretes a mucilaginous sap when cut.

Tradescantia zebrina care

Tradescantia zebrina care

Because of its attractive purple and green foliage and flowering this plant is used as an ornamental plant. The care and propagation of this plan is relatively easy and needs less maintenance.


The plant Tradescantia zebrina requires moderate sunlight or grows well under semi-shed conditions. although medium light is good enough for its proper growth should be careful of keeping or shutting the completely as it may result in stunted growth with thin stems and also discolored leaves(5).


Moderate watering is good enough for its growth. although this plant has no issues with occasional excess water or little water as it is easy to grow and low maintenance plant.


Moist well-drained soil is good for its healthy growth. Make sure the soil is not too depleted in minerals and it should be properly aerated.


During the active growth of plants use balanced fertilizers diluted to half strength with each watering.


Propagation is via stem cutting or stolons.

Health benefits of Tradescantia zebrina or Wandering Jew

This plant is widely used in Chinese, Jamaican, Mexican, and Malaysian traditional medicinal systems. The Health Benefits of Tradescantia zebrina are as follows

1. Possible antioxidant activity

The leaves of T. zebrina possess possible antioxidant properties (2).

2. May have antibacterial properties

Tradescantia leaves possess a strong antibacterial activity against Bacillus, Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, and Proteus species (2)

3. Antiarrhythmic property

The leaves of Tradescantia also have compounds that help in treating abnormal heart rhythms (3).

4. Acetylcholine inhibitory property

Tradescantia has compounds that may help in the inhibition or breakdown of acetylcholine. This helps in the treatment of diseases like Alzheimer’s or other central nervous system-related problems (3).

How to take care of Tradescantia zebrina

The plant is a herbaceous climber in nature. This plant can be grown both in a pot and as hanging. Any type of soil and moderate sunlight is good for this plant. T. zebrina can survive both indoors and outdoors. Watering is important. Make sure that you can water the plant every day or whenever the topsoil becomes dry. Fertilize once in two months will be sufficient enough for its normal healthy growth (4)

Toxicity to pets

Safe for dogs and Cats.