Commonly called purple heart or purple heart wandering jew (and occasionally “Moses in the Basket,” although this usually refers to a different species) this herbaceous plant in the Commelinaceae (spiderwort family) is a low-growing trailer that is hardy in zones 7-10, but is easily grown as an annual or houseplant in colder climates. Often grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 to 11 as a groundcover, purple heart (Setcresea or Tradescantia pallida) has become even more popular as a houseplant. Since cuttings root quickly, it's easy to "award" this purple heart plant as an indoor gift to all your friends. Purple heart is also effective at helping clean pollutants from household air, notes Berry College Biology Department.


Purple heart is an easily grown perennial that will occasionally overwinter in central and south Arkansas, as an annual or as a houseplant in either pots or hanging baskets. It has also become popular as an addition to mixed patio containers. It roots easily, is fast growing and tolerates full sun and drought remarkably well for a plant that is happiest with lots of moisture. It will tolerate moderate shade but the colors will be more washed out in the shade. Plants are reliably winter hardy to zone 8.The white potato cyst nematode, Globodera pallida, is a sedentary root endoparasite that causes yield losses on Solanaceous crops worldwide (Jones et al., 2013, CABI Invasive Species Compendium http://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/27033). It invades host plants in the elongation zone behind the root tip and then migrates through the inner cortex layers to initiate a feeding site near the vascular tissues (Lilley et al., 2005). The specialized feeding site, or syncytium, is a large multinucleate cell formed by the breakdown of plant cell walls and subsequent fusion of adjacent protoplasts (Kyndt et al., 2013). G. pallida is an obligate biotroph and relies on the syncytium for all nutrients required for its growth and reproduction.

The Commelinaceae family comprises 37 genera and over 600 species [1] of monocotyledonous herbaceous flowering plants [2,3], notably the spiderworts (Tradescantia sp.). They are believed to have originated from the old world tropics, but now they are widely distributed throughout the sub-tropics and tropics of both hemispheres, with some species surviving even in more temperate climates [4]. These plants are often grown for ornamental purposes due to their bluish or purplish leaves and/or flowers, but are also known to be used ethnobotanically to treat many diseases, including mycosal infections [5], venereal diseases [6], wounds [7], gastrointestinal disorders, and cancer [8], which may be linked to their antibacterial and antioxidant properties. However, reports on the antibacterial and antioxidant properties of these plants have remained rare so far.Commelinaceae is a family of herbaceous flowering plants with many species used in ethnobotany, particularly in South America. However, thus far reports of their bioactivity are few and far between. The primary aim of this study was to quantify the antioxidant and antibacterial activity of five Commelinaceae methanolic leaf extracts. The antioxidant content was evaluated by the total phenolic content (TPC), total tannin content (TTC), and total flavonoid content (TFC) assays. The antioxidant activities measured were DPPH free radical scavenging (FRS), ferric reducing power (FRP), and ferrous ion chelating (FIC); of the five plants, the methanolic leaf extract of Tradescantia zebrina showed the highest antioxidant content and activity, and exhibited antibacterial activity against six species of Gram-positive and two species of Gram-negative bacteria in a range of 5–10 mg/mL based on the broth microdilution method. (Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)


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