creeping inch plant

Callisia repens
dense infestation in the understorey of riparian vegetation (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
dense infestation in the understorey of riparian vegetation (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
infestation in flower along Moggill Creek in Brookfield (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
infestation in riparian vegetation near Beaudersert (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
dense mat-forming habit with small leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
habit of plant with small and larger leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
habit of plant with larger leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
habit with semi-upright flowering stems (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
densely arranged small fleshy leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of small leaves with numerous tiny purplish spots (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of larger leaves without any spots (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of stem and leaf undersides (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of reduced upper leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
Succulent
Alternate
Simple
White
Green
Green

A long-lived herbaceous plant with creeping stems forming dense mats of vegetation. Its fleshy creeping stems are much-branched and produce roots at their joints. Its alternately arranged leaves are densely clustered along the stems, but gradually become smaller and more distant from each other along the flowering stems. These small leaves (1-4 cm long) are usually green, often with numerous tiny purple spots and/or purplish margins. Its small white flowers are arranged in small stalkless clusters in the forks of the reduced upper leaves. Its tiny oblong capsules (about 1.5 mm long) have two compartments, each containing two seeds.

Common names 
Also known as: creeping inch plant, basket plant, Bolivian Jew, creeping basketplant, inch plant, itsy bitsy inch plant, jellybean plant, little jewel, tiny buttons,
Family 
Commelinaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Summer - Autumn
Native/Exotic 
Exotic
Origin 
Native to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America.
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

This species is becoming relatively widespread and common in the Moreton ditrict in south-eastern Queensland. It is occasionally also naturalised in the coastal districts of central and northern Queensland.

Habitat 

A weed of riparian vegetation, coastal environs, roadsides, forest margins, urban bushland, disturbed sites and waste areas.

Habit 

A long-lived (i.e. perennial) herbaceous plant with creeping (i.e. prostrate) stems forming dense mats of vegetation. It also produces short, semi-upright (i.e. ascending), flowering stems.

Impact and control methods 
Stem and leaves 

The fleshy (i.e. succulent) creeping stems are much-branched and produce roots at their joints (i.e. nodes). The alternately arranged leaves are densely clustered along the stems. These leaves consist of a very short sheath, which encloses the stem, and a fleshy (i.e. succulent) leaf blade. The leaf blades (1-4 cm long and 6-12 mm wide) are egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate) to somewhat elongated in shape (i.e. lanceolate) with entire margins and pointed tips (i.e. acute or acuminate apices). Their upper surfaces are usually green, often with numerous tiny purple spots and/or purplish margins, while their undersides vary from slightly purple-tinged to bright purple in colour. These leaves gradually become smaller and more distant from each other along the flowering stems.

Flowers and fruits 

The flowers are arranged in small stalkless (i.e. sessile) clusters in the forks (i.e. axils) of the reduced upper leaves. These clusters are usually borne in pairs, each being subtended by papery bracts. Each of the stalkless flowers has three small narrow green sepals (3-4 mm long) and three inconspicuous white petals (3-6 mm long). They also have three stamens and an ovary topped with a style and stigma. Flowering occurs mainly during summer and autumn. The tiny oblong capsules (about 1.5 mm long) have two compartments, each containing two seeds. The seeds (about 1 mm across) are brown with rough surfaces (i.e. they are rugose).

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces by seed and vegetatively via its creeping stems (i.e. stolons).The creeping stems spread laterally and develop into large colonies. Stem segments and seeds are mainly spread in dumped garden waste, and may also be dispersed by water.

Similar species 

Creeping inch plant (Callisia repens) is very similar to striped inch plant (Callisia elegans) and relatively similar to purple succulent (Callisia fragrans) and trad (Tradescantia fluminensis). These species can be distinguished by the following differences: creeping inch plant (Callisia repens) has small purple-spotted green leaves (1-4 cm long) with purplish undersides. Its white flowers have three rounded petals.striped inch plant (Callisia elegans) has small green leaves (3.5-10 cm long) with white stripes and purplish undersides. Its white flowers have three rounded petals.purple succulent (Callisia fragrans) has large green, purplish-green or purple leaves (5-40 cm long) with green or purplish undersides that are arranged in clusters. Its white flowers have three rounded petals.trad (Tradescantia fluminensis) has small glossy green leaves (3-6.5 cm long) with green undersides (its upper surfaces are sometimes white-striped in cultivated plants). Its white flowers have three pointed petals. It is also very similar to Tahitian bridal veil (Gibasis pellucida) and relatively similar to zebrina (Tradescantia zebrina), hairy wandering Jew (Commelina benghalensis) and native wandering Jew (Commelina diffusa). However, Tahitian bridal veil (Gibasis pellucida) has flowers in loose stalked clusters, while the other species have pink or blue flowers.