Commelina benghalensis L.

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Commelina benghalensis

Photo: Sune Holt
Vilankulo, Inhambane, Mozambique

Commelina benghalensis

Photo: Sune Holt
Vilankulo, Inhambane, Mozambique

Commelina benghalensis

Photo: Sune Holt
Vilankulo, Inhambane, Mozambique

Commelina benghalensis

Photo: Sune Holt
Vilankulo, Inhambane, Mozambique

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Commelina benghalensis L. var. hirsuta C.B. Clarke
Common names: Wandering jew (English)
Status: Native
Spreading annual or perennial herb with branches decumbent to ascending, up to 1 m long, rooting at the nodes, some leafless shoots bearing subterranean, cleistogamous flowers and capsules near the base of the plant. Leaves spirally arranged, ovate-elliptic or narrowly lanceolate, 2.5-14.5 cm long, velvety or hairy on both surfaces; sheaths up to 3 cm long, velvety and often with red or white hairs at the apex. Spathes terminal, mostly densely clustered but sometimes only 1-2, funnel-shaped, subsessile, slightly falcate, 0.7-2 cm long, margins fused for 5-13 mm, ciliolate along the fused portion, usually densely velvety-hairy on the surfaces. Flowers bisexual and male, 1-2 cm wide, mostly bright blue, occasionally mauve, bluish-purple or lilac.
Notes: Two varieties were recognized by some authorities but the differences between the nominate var. and var. hirsuta C.B. Clarke are not consistent and were no longer recognized by Faden in FTEA: 202, 2012.
Derivation of specific name: benghalensis: of Bengal, a region on the Indian subcontinent where the type specimen was collected.
Habitat: In grassland and open woodland but also as a weed of roadsides, disturbed areas and cultivated ground.
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Widespread and sometimes weedy throughout the paleotropics and subtropics. Introduced in the Americas, Indian and Pacific Ocean Islands and Australia.
Botswana distribution: N,SE
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Wednesday 1 June 2016

Baumann, G. (2005). Photographic Guide to Wildflowers of Malawi Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi Pages 242 - 243. (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 294. as Commelina benghalensis

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 15.

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 9.

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 121.

Faden, R. (2012). Commelinaceae Flora of Tropical East Africa Pages 200 - 203.

Heath, A. & Heath, R. (2009). Field Guide to the Plants of Northern Botswana including the Okavango Delta Kew Publishing Page 43. (Includes a picture).

Kirby, G. (2013). Wild Flowers of Southeast Botswana Struik Nature, Cape Town South Africa Page 338. (Includes a picture).

Linley, K. & Baker, B. (1972). Flowers of the Veld Bundu Series Longman Zimbabwe Page 10.

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 86.

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 108.

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 117.

Siebert, S. & Mössmer, M. (Editors) (2002). SABONET Southern Mozambique Expedition 2001; Provisional Plant Checklist of the Maputo Elephant Reserve (MER) and Licuati Forest Reserve (LFR) SABONET News 7(1) Page 25.

Timberlake, J.R. & Childes, S.L. (2004). Biodiversity of the Four Corners Area: Technical Reviews Volume Two (Chapter 5-15) Appendix 5-1: Plant Checklist Occasional Publications in Biodiversity 15 Page 181.

Wild, H. (1955). Common Rhodesian Weeds Government of Rhodesia, Salisbury Page 9. (Includes a picture).

Other sources of information about Commelina benghalensis:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: Commelina benghalensis
Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Commelina benghalensis
Flora of Malawi: Commelina benghalensis
Flora of Mozambique: Commelina benghalensis
Flora of Zambia: Commelina benghalensis
Flora of Zimbabwe: Commelina benghalensis

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Commelina benghalensis
African Plant Database: Commelina benghalensis
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Commelina benghalensis
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Commelina benghalensis
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Commelina benghalensis
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Commelina benghalensis
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Commelina benghalensis
JSTOR Plant Science: Commelina benghalensis
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Commelina benghalensis
Plants of the World Online: Commelina benghalensis
Tropicos: Commelina benghalensis
Wikipedia: Commelina benghalensis

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2014-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Botswana: Species information: Commelina benghalensis., retrieved 25 June 2024

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