Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Tradescantia spathacea Sw.

Frost tender, clump-forming perennial with rosettes of semi-erect, lance-shaped, fleshy, leaves, deep purple beneath, to 35cm long, and paired axillary cymes of white flowers, surrounded by long-lasting purple bracts, throughout the year.  To 30cm.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘Brought from the countries bordering the Gulf of Mexico to Jamaica; whence it has been imported to this country.  Requires to be kept in a stove.  Propagates abundantly both by offsets and seed.  Of easy culture.’  [BM t.1192/1809].  Introduced to Britain in 1783.  [JD].  The improved variety vittata Miq. was figured in Flore des Serres.  [FS f.1169-1170/1856].

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [T.968/1857].


Tradescantia discolor Raf. (1837) = Tradescantia virginiana L.

Published Mar 12, 2009 - 04:46 PM | Last updated Mar 08, 2010 - 10:48 AM

Illustrated are the purple-backed leaves and small white flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.1192, 1809.

Tradescantia spathacea Sw. | BM t.1192/1809 | BHL

Family Commelinaceae
Region of origin

Central America

  • Tradescantia discolor L’Hérit.
  • Rhoeo discolor (L’Hérit.) Hance
  • Rhoeo spathacea (Sw.) Stearn
Common Name

Moses-in-the-cradle, Three-Men-in-a-boat, Rhoeo

Name in the Camden Park Record

Tradescantia discolor 

Confidence level high