November 6th, 2007
Cute Flower or Noxious Weed?

mystery flower

Here’s a couple of photos of the new flower I discovered in my garden last week. It looks a bit like a miniature tradescantia except that the flower sticks up on a thin stem. The flower is less than 1/4 inch (1 cm) in diameter and the stem about 2 inches (5 cm) long. The plant is a little more than a foot (30 cm) tall and a bit sprawling.

Should I be welcoming this stranger into my garden or weeding it out as fast as I can?

mystery flower

Annie, this isn’t the same white flower I’ve admired in your front lawn under the trees, is it? Seems to me the flowers on your plant are larger.

Looking at my garden diary, I see I’ve met this plant before. It can’t be too invasive if I haven’t seen it in nine years, can it?

Dateline: 1998
Sunday December 6, 1998
White-flowered tradescantia–In the northwest corner, some plant is growing from J’s yard into both neighboring yards. It looks like some kind of tradescantia. The flowers are small, but very white.

by M Sinclair Stevens

8 Responses to post “Cute Flower or Noxious Weed?”

  1. From Annie in Austin:

    Did you take a piece home with you last fall, MSS? They look quite similar, and the flowers on mine are about 1/4 inch in size. I looked at a flower under magnification – it appears to have 4 stamens, but I can’t guaranteee that. My patch is a froth of bloom right now. This is its fourth autumn and it’s spread but not romped.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    No. I didn’t get a cutting of yours. I think this might have been there years and years ago. Now that you mention it, I have a vague memory of some white flower in that corner. Then the hackberry grew up and nothing grew there for years except poison ivy. We’ve cut it down the hackberry and up pops this flower. Or maybe it came back with all the extra rain this summer. — mss

  2. From Rachel:

    It sure looks like spiderwort to me (although I’ve never seen a white one). It’s lovely! I’d keep it if I were you.

  3. From Angelina:

    I love new discoveries in the garden. I think the flower is very pretty on that plant. I would probably let it stay for a while under observation.

  4. From Carol:

    I vote for “keep it” but watch it closely. If it is related to Tradescantia, it just might be a spreader.

  5. From Ki:

    I immediately thought of Tradescantia like Carol did. I found the Tradescantia to be more leaf than flower so we got rid of it.

  6. From Julie:

    I have had scads of this, bequeathed from neighbor Brooks K., It really does spread but unlike some other spreaders, it comes up and out (and back) easily. I’d suggest giving it a shady patch and seeing how you like it there, since it will bloom in shade. I like its delicate little blooms. As for scientific name, dunno — we went around and around a bit on that subject on your site last year.

    It’s not the same as the Callisia repens I asked about last year. This plant is bigger, has bigger leaves of a darker green, and much larger flowers (although smaller than my usual spiderwort or purple heart. Quite of few things in that family and their kin the dayflowers (false and otherwise) grow as wildflowers in my yard. I love the white flowers and would like it in my “woods” during the summer after the spiderwort has died back. — mss

  7. From kate:

    Any flowers look great to me these days. It’s a pretty flower and so I hope you keep it.

  8. From Don, Iowa City:

    Maybe Tradescantia fluminensis??