Recently I was given this plant when I went over to visit Mylene.
It’s become a habit of ours to exchange plants and seeds. She often said that she wished most companies would give her a potted plant as a token of appreciation instead of the usual souvenirs like mugs and engraved plaques. I agree.
At least getting a plant means you get to take a life home.
She told me that this plant could help prevent ailments. Chief among those was cancer. Ooohhh.
I asked her the name of the plant but she didn’t know.
So me being the intrepid and curious sort decided to find out. I happened to have an old book on indoor plants (which I wrangled from my dad years ago – one never knows with parents. They have a propensity of throwing or giving old books away). So I looked it up and figured it’s called Wandering Jew.
The pleasure of living in the 21st century is that ANYTHING can be checked and confirmed online.
So I started browsing some websites and ended up confirming that yes, this is called an Inch Plant, a Wandering Jew plant and Tradescantia zebrina (its proper name).
It can be a house plant or grown outside as ground cover but further reading unearthed that if you do plant it as ground cover, beware that it might overtake the entire ground! Yes, this plant may look harmless but it is invasive.
Now I am more interested in this plant as a medicinal herb (yes, this is another addition to my herbal collection which I am growing).
In Chinese, this plant is called Shui Gui Cao (Water Turtle Grass).
Accordingly, it is useful when boiled as a herb tea and drunk to clear the kidneys and for kidney problems.
The first blog link above recommends using 200 gm of the Wandering Jew leaves to be boiled with 15 dried red dates and 12 slices of ginger in a pot of 1.5 liters of water. Simmer for 1.5 hours before adding brown sugar. This tea apparently helps remove toxins from your body.
Mylene said that her friend boils this plant and drinks it for health maintenance. For now, I am contented just having it grow on the balcony. Wait till it grow a little bit bigger before I pluck its leaves for a herbal tisane!
By the way, have you come across this plant?