Tradescantia spathacea

scientific name: 
Tradescantia spathacea Sw.
Rhoeo spathacea (Sw.) Stearn
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Herb 40-70 cm high, forming large colonies, stems thick and covered with withered leaves. Leaves alternate, sessile, densely imbricate, linear-lanceolate, 20-35 x 3-5 cm, dark green above, purple beneath and along the margins; inflorescence axillary,  umbelliform cyme enclosed by compressed spathe-like bracts, 3-4.5 cm broad and 2-3 high, petals white 5-8 mm long; capsule 3-angled 4.5 mm long.




  hoja, decocción, vía oral2-3


  hoja, decocción, vía oral2-3


  leaf, warm, applied locally1


  hoja, decocción, vía oral2

For headache, late period (amenorrhea), twisting or traumatism:

There is no available information establishing a means of preparation and dosage other than that referred to by traditional use.

Any medicinal preparation must be preserved cold and used within the 24 hours.

According to published and other information:

Uses for late period (amenorrhea) without pregnancy, twisting and traumatism are classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and on available published scientific information.

Topical use for headache is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Not for use by pregnant women for risk of abortion, during lactation or by children under 5 years old.

For late period (amenorrhea) other than pregnancy, apply treatment for three consecutive days.

Do not use decoction by oral administrationfor more than five consecutive days.

If the patient’s condition deteriorates, or if headache, twisting or traumatism persist for more than three days, seek medical attention.

Contact of the leaf with the skin may cause irritation5.

The hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the entire dried plant, intraperitoneally administered to mice (400 mg/kg) caused general toxic effects11.

The leaf juice applied on skin caused reddening and irritation5.

There is no available information documenting the safety of use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

The leaf contains anthocyanins: rhoeonin6.  Amino acids in the leaf have been described7.

The phytochemical screening of the leaf has shown the absence of alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins and tannins8.

TRAMIL Research9

The hydroalcoholic extract (80%) from the leaf (obtained from percolation and defattening with petroleum ether) administered intraperitoneally (1900 mg/kg) to rats caused significant sedative effects after 30 and 60 minutes.  The effects were evaluated based on motor activity by measuring horizontal movements using Varimex® equipment.

The leaf juice was a stimulant to rat uterus8.

The hydroalcoholic extract (80%) from the dried leaf topically applied to mice (25 mg/kg) and rats (150 mg/kg) in the croton oil-induced edema model showed anti-inflammatory effects.  The same extract orally administered to rats (100 mg/kg) was active against cotton pellet-induced granuloma (localized inflammatory lesion composed of lymphocytes, epithelioid cells, and giant cells overlying a background of granulation tissue).  By intraperitoneal administration (25 mg/kg), it was active against formaldehyde-induced arthritis10.


1 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

2 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

3 WENIGER B, 1987-88 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

4 WHO, 1991 Pautas para la evaluación de medicamentos herbarios WHO/TRM/91.4 (original inglés). Programa de Medicina Tradicional, OMS, Ginebra, Suiza.

5 LAMPE KF, FAGERSTRÖM R, 1968 Plant toxicity and dermatitis: A manual for physicians. Baltimore, USA: Williams & Wilkins.

6 IDAKA E, OGAWA T, KONDO T, GOTO T, 1987 Isolation of highly acylated anthocyanins from Commelinaceae plants, Zebrina pendula, Rhoeo spathacea and Setcreasea purpurea. Agr Biol Chem 51(8):2215-2220.

7 YEOH HH, WEE YC, WATSON L, 1986 Taxonomic variation in total leaf protein amino acid compositions of monocotyledonous plants. Biochem Syst Ecol 14(1):91-96.

8 WENIGER B, HAAG-BERRURIER M, ANTON R, 1982 Plants of Haiti used as antifertility agents. J of Ethnopharmacology 6(1):67-84.

9 GUPTA M, ESPOSITO AVELLA M, 1988 Evaluación química y farmacológica de algunas plantas medicinales de TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá. TRAMIL III, La Habana, Cuba, MINSAP/enda-caribe.

10 PEREZ RM, 1996 Anti-inflammatory activity of Ambrosia artemisiaefolia and Rhoeo spathacea. Phytomedicine 3(2):163-167.

11 SUFFNESS M, ABBOTT B, STATZ DW, WONILOWICZ E, SPJUT R, 1988 The utility of P388 leukemia compared to B16 melanoma and colon carcinoma 38 for in vivo screening of plant extracts. Phytother Res 2(2):89-97.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.