The genus Tradescantia (family Commelinaceae) comprises 75 species of herbaceous perennial wildflowers, which are mostly found in the tropics and subtropics throughout the world. Most are creeping plants but some, including the boat lily, have upright habits. Wandering Jew is one of the many tradescantia species cultivated for the beauty of its leaves, which are variegated. The flowers are often small, few, and inconspicuous, but in some species are large with violet-colored petals and six bright yellow, pollen-bearing anthers.
Vegetative reproduction is assisted by the formation of roots at the leaf bases.