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  Tradescantia spathacea Sw.
  Family Name : Commelinaceae

  Synonyms : Rhoeo discolor, Tradescantia discolor, Rhoeo spathacea

  Common Names : Boat Lily, Oyster Plant, Cradle Lily, Moses-in-the-Cradle, Moses in His Cradle, Moses on a Raft, Moses in the Bulrushes, Men in a Boat

  Chinese Name : 蚌花, 紫背万年青, 荷包花

Boat Lily,Oyster Plant,Cradle Lily,Moses-in-the-Cradle,Moses in His Cradle,Moses on a Raft,Moses in the Bulrushes,Men in a Boat
  • Record Info
    • Featured in '1001 Garden Plants in Singapore' Book (2ed) :
  • Life Stage & Characteristics
    • Plant Division :
      Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
      Plant Growth Form :
      Shrub (Herbaceous; Creeper)
      Lifespan (in Singapore) :
      Mode of Nutrition :
      Maximum Height :
      0.3 m to 0.5 m
  • Biogeography
    • Native Distribution :
      West Indies, Southern Mexico, Guatemala
      Preferred Climate Zone :
  • Description & Ethnobotany
    • Plant Morphology :
      Growth Form: Semi-epiphytic herbaceous shrub with underground rhizomes, Clumping rosette form.
      Foliage: Leaves long and sword-shaped, dark teal green on top, vivid purple on underside, waxy and fleshy.
      Stems: Trunk-like, short and stout, nearly hidden by overlapping leaves.
      Flowers: Flowers small, white, nestled in purple boat-shaped bracts, produced whole year round at leaf axils.
      Fruits: Fruits are capsules with 2 seeds.
      Cultivation :
      Provide good drainage to prevent root rot. Propagate by stem-cuttings, seeds or division. Watery sap may result in skin stinging and itching in sensitive individuals or animals. Plant should not be eaten raw, as sap can cause burning pain in mouth and throat.
      Etymology :
      Genus epithet 'Tradescantia' named after John Tradescant (died 1638), gardener to King Charles I of England. Species epithet 'spathacea' means 'with a spathe', describing the spathe-like bract holding the flowers.
      Ethnobotanical Uses :
      Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves)
      Food (Herb & Spice)
      Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves), Medicinal
      [Others]: Medicinal: Plant believed to possess anti-microbial, insecticidal, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Leaves boiled and made into a purple-coloured herbal tea to relieve body heatiness. Used in Thailand to treat fever, cough and bronchitis. Also used as remedy for amenorrhea, headache, sprains and rheumatism. Caution: Astringent sap may cause stinging and itching in susceptible individuals and animals. Do not eat plant raw, as sap can cause pain in mouth and throat.
  • Landscaping Features
    • Desirable Plant Features :
      Ornamental Foliage
      Plant & Rootzone Preference/Tolerance :
      Dry Soils / Drought, Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils, Shallow Media (8 -10cm), Easy to Grow
      Landscape Uses :
      General, Green Roof, Flowerbed / Border, Interiorscape/ Indoor Plant, Container Planting
      Thematic Landscaping :
      Economic Garden
      Usage Hazards / Cons :
      Irritant - Sap, [Remarks] (Astringent sap may cause stinging and itching in susceptible individuals and animals. Do not eat plant raw, as sap can cause pain in mouth and throat.)
  • Plant Care & Propagation
    • Light Preference :
      Full Sun, Semi-Shade
      Water Preference :
      Moderate Water
      Plant Growth Rate :
      Maintenance Requirements :
      Potential Problems :
      Prone to root rot, if soil is not well-drained.
      Propagation Method :
      Seed, Stem Cutting, Sucker, Division, [Remarks] (Rhizomes)
  • Foliar
    • Foliage Retention :
      Mature Foliage Colour(s) :
      Green, Purple
      Mature Foliage Texture(s) :
      Smooth, Thick
      Foliar Type :
      Simple / Unifoliate
      Foliar Arrangement Along Stem :
      Foliar Shape(s) :
      Non-Palm Foliage (Linear)
      Foliar Venation :
      Foliar Margin :
      Foliar Apex / Tip :
      Foliar Base :
      Truncate / Square
      Typical Foliar Area :
      Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )
      Leaf Area Index (LAI) * for Green Plot Ratio :
      3.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Monocot)
  • Non-Foliar & Storage
    • Stem Type & Modification :
      Root Type :
      Underground (Fibrous Root)
  • Floral (Angiosperm)
    • Flower & Plant Sexuality :
      Bisexual Flowers
      Flower Colour(s) :
      Flowering Habit :
  • Fruit, Seed & Spore
    • Fruit Classification :
      Simple Fruit
      Fruit Type :
      Dehiscent Dry Fruit (Capsule)
The information given on this website has been compiled from reference works on medicinal plants and/or pron only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Reliance on this information is strictly at your own risk. You should always consult your physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.

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