Tradescantia / wandering willie

Common name:  Tradescantia/wandering willie
Scientific name:  Nassella trichotoma
Management programme:  Site-led

Why is it a pest?

Tradescantia is only considered a pest in our Dunedin site-led programmes. Tradscantia, also known as wandering willie, smothers shaded ground areas and prevents native seedlings from growing. It invades most damp shaded habitats, especially disturbed and previously grazed forest, shrubland, stream sides, river systems, loose soil terraces, fern-land, wetlands, and anywhere downstream of or next to existing infestations. It causes habitats to open up and be invaded by exotic shrubs and vines.

It can survive in thick shade, through lots of damage and grazing, wet soil types, and high and low temperatures but not frost and drought. It can be spread through water movement, livestock, dumped vegetation, soil movements, boots and mowers.

What does it look like?

Tradescantia is a soft, hairless, groundcover (any plant that grows over an area of ground) with soft, creeping stems that root at all nodes (the part of the stem where the plant grows from) touching the ground. It has dark green, shiny, smooth and slightly-fleshy leaves that are oval with pointed tips. White flowers produced from December to January are 3-petalled and in small clusters. No fruit or seed is produced in New Zealand.

What are the rules?

There are no rules for landowners in Otago regarding tradescantia. Under Otago‚Äôs pest plan, tradescantia is only classified as a pest in the site-led areas; Otago Peninsula, West Harbour/Mt Cargill, Quarantine Island and Goat Island. 

The goal is to progressively contain tradescantia in these areas to prevent or improve on damage to the indigenous ecosystem values at these sites.

How will we achieve that?

ORC will take a lead role in supporting the goals of community groups and agencies in site-led areas in relation to tradescantia. This may be through advice, education, funding, service delivery or requiring other landowners to undertake control when needed.

How can I control it?

For small spots you can rake and roll up the plant working towards the centre. This works best in a drought period. Dispose of at a refuse transfer station, burn or bury. You should usually spray to follow up on this work to make sure there are no leftover fragments can spread infestation.

Spraying is also an option, you will need 2-3 treatments for total control, following up within 2-3 months, before the plant recovers.

Management programme