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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - July 10, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives
Title: Non-native Tradescantia spathacea in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can a moses in the cradle (Tradescantia spathacea) plant be planted in a landscape setting with part sun of up to six hours in this texas heat?

ANSWER:

This plant is native to the West Indies, Mexico and Central America, and therefore out of our realm of expertise. It is a tropical, and while it may be accustomed to heat, it probably also is accustomed to moderation of the climate by more rain than we have had this year.  Here is an article from Floridata on Tradescantia spathacea (oysterplant). We would particularly call your attention to this warning from that article:

"Oysterplant has naturalized in Florida and Louisiana and is listed as a Category I invasive exotic species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. This means that it is known to be "invading and disrupting native plant communities in Florida." Although the seeds are apparently wind-dispersed and oysterplant consequently turns up growing in all sorts of places - even as an epiphyte on city buildings - real ecological problems seem limited to situations where it has invaded hardwood hammock forests. In such places, it can create a dense groundcover that prevents native plants from germinating on the forest floor.

Contact with the sap may cause brief stinging and itching of the skin. Attempting to eat oysterplant results in severe burning pain in the mouth and throat."

 

 

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