Wandering jew

Wandering jew in flower.Wandering jew (Tradescantia fluminensis).


Also known as: wandering willie. 

What does it look like?

This plant has fleshy, dark green, shiny leaves that are 3-6cm long, oval with pointed tips on hairless, creeping stems. It produces white flowers with three petals from spring to summer.

Why is it a problem?

It is shade tolerant and forms dense mats on the forest floor, smothering vegetation and preventing native regeneration. It may cause dermatitis in dogs.

How do I get rid of it?

  • Cover the area with black plastic for 6-12 months; or 
  • Spray with 60ml triclopyr (300g/l e.g. Grazon®) + 10ml penetrant per 10 litres water. Follow-up is essential.

Control methods for ground cover pest plants

There is a range of methods available to control pest plants. The following recommendations – which are only a sample of those available – are based on safe-use methods that have proven effective.

  • Physical removal of the plant and all fragments to a land fill is the best organic method.
  • Slashing, mowing or otherwise removing plant material and then treating the stumps or regrowth reduces the amount of chemicals needed.
  • Apply chemical within 10 minutes of cutting.
  • Spray is recommended for large areas. For gun and hose or aerial rates contact the regional council’s biosecurity team.
  • Penetrant aids the uptake of herbicides – there is a range available, e.g. Pulse®, Boost®, Freeway, Dewdrop, Kiwi Buddy Uptake crop oil. 


Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY and follow all instructions and safety requirements.

More information

For further information or control advice please contact one of our biosecurity team at the Northland Regional Council on 0800 002 004.


More information on these and other pest plants is also available at: