Purple heart

Family • Commelinaceae - Setcreasea pallida Rose - PURPLE QUEEN

Scientific names

Setcreasea pallida Rose
Tradescantia pallida (Rose) D. R. Hunt
Setcreasea purpurea Boom

Common names

Purple heart (Engl.)
Purple jew (Engl.)
Purple secretia (Emgl.)
Purple queen (Engl.)
Wandering jew (Engl.)

Purple heart is a low-growing succulent evergreen perennial herb with erect or sprawling stems. Leaves are elongated and pointed, glaucous green to violet-purple. Flowers are small, three-petaled, white, pink or purple.

Purple heart

– Ornamental plant in gardens and borders.
– Used as ground cover or hanging plant.
– Propagated by cuttings.

Purple heart2

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Tradescantia pallida / Wikipedia

(2) Anthocyanins of Tradescantia pallida. Potential Food Colorants / Z Ulin shi et al / Journal of Food Science
Volume 57 Issue 3, Pages 761 – 765 / DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2621.1992.tb08090

(3) Biowalls / Clean Air / Living Walls and Vertical GardensTrue art.

(4) Common plants can help remove indoor air pollutants / Ani / Health News

(5) Indoor Air Pollution: An Introduction for Health Professionals / Can plants control indoor air pollution? / Environmental Protection Agency

(6) Houseplant Toxicity Week: Part 5 / Plants are the strangest people /

(7) INAA applied to Tradescantia pallida plant study for environmental pollution monitoring / M. Saiki, E. R. Alves, N. M. Sumita, P. H. N. Saldiva / Czechoslovak Journal of Physics, 2003, Volume 53, Issue 1 Supplement, pp A189-A193

(8) Sensitivity of Tradescantia pallida (Rose) Hunt. ‘Purpurea’ Boom to genotoxicity induced by ozone. / de Souza Lima E, de Souza SR, Domingos M / Mutation Research [2009, 675(1-2):41-45] / DOI: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2009.02.007

(9) Chromium(VI) Accumulation and Tolerance by Tradescantia pallida: Biochemical and Antioxidant Study. / Sinha V, Pakshirajan K, Chaturvedi R. / Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2014 Jul 1

(10) Lipid peroxidation in Tradescantia pallida: a new bioindicator response of air pollutants / Claudia Ramos Rhoden, Maria Fernanda Hornos Carneiro, Marcelo Rafael Petry, Regiani Carvalho Oliveira and Paulo Hilário Nascimento Saldiva /The FASEB Journal. 2008;22:1137.2

Purple heart3Properties
– Rare mild skin irritation from handling the plant. Tradescantia species generally regarded as nontoxic.

– No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
– Taiwanese compilation reports it to improve circulation and as anti-inflammatory and antitoxic.

• VOC Removal: As a house plant, considered effective at improving air quality by filtering out VOCs (volatile organic compounds) – pollutants and respiratory irritants– through phytoremediation. One study rated it superior for its ability in removing 4 out of 5 VOCs. (See below)
• Biowall: One of the component plants in the biowall that purifies and cleans the air.

Purple heart5Purple heart4

Study Findings
• Anthocyanins Pigments / Food Colorant: T pallida contained two major anthocyanins. The pigments may have potential as food colorants.
• Phytoremediation / Indoor Air-Purifying Plant: VOQs (volatile organic compounds including benzene, xylene, hexane, heptane, octane, decane, trichlorethylene (TCE) and methylene chloride) have been known to cause or aggravate various illnesses when people are exposed to them in indoor spaces. Studies have shown the ability of some plants to remove VOCs, a process called “phytoremediation.” Of 28 species tested with 5 volatile indoor pollutants – benzene and toluene (plastics, cleaning solutions, environmental tobacco smoke), octane (paints, adhesive materials), TCE (tap water, cleaning agents, insecticides), and alpha-pinene (synthetic pains and odorants) – Hemigraphis alternata, Hedera helix, Hoya carnosa, Asparagus densiflorus had the highest removal rates for all the VOCs introduced. Tradescantia pallida (purple heart) was given a superior rating for its ability to remove four of the five VOCs.
• Environmental Pollution Biomonitoring: Study showed the viability of using Tradescantia pallida in environmental pollution biomonitoring.
• Sensitivity to Genotoxicity Induced by Ozone: Study evaluated the sensitivity of T. pallida to genotoxicity induced by ozone by MCN (micronucleus) bioassay, to verify whether the intensity of genotoxic responses in inflorescences and the conditions that conditions that affect its modulation.
• Chromium Accumulator / Antioxidant: Tradescantia pallida was screened to be a potent chromium accumulator. Lipid peroxidation, catalase, peroxidase and ascorbate peroxidase enzyme activities played an important role in overcoming Cr-induced oxidative stress on the plant.
• Lipid Peroxidation / Bioindicator to Air Pollutants: Study showed Tradescantia pallida serves both as bioindicator of genotoxic substances and oxidizing contaminants. It is also capable of accumulating trace elements in their leaf tissue.

• Can plants control indoor air pollution? Recent reports in the media and promotions by the decorative houseplant industry characterize plants as “nature’s clean air machine”, claiming that National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research shows plants remove indoor air pollutants. While it is true that plants remove carbon dioxide from the air, and the ability of plants to remove certain other pollutants from water is the basis for some pollution control methods, the ability of plants to control indoor air pollution is less well established. Most research to date used small chambers without any air exchange which makes extrapolation to real world environments extremely uncertain. The only available study of the use of plants to control indoor air pollutants in an actual building could not determine any benefit from the use of plants69. As a practical means of pollution control, the plant removal mechanisms appear to be inconsequential compared to common ventilation and air exchange rates. In other words, the ability of plants to actually improve indoor air quality is limited in comparison with provision of adequate ventilation.
While decorative foliage plants may be aesthetically pleasing, it should be noted that over damp planter soil conditions may actually promote growth of unhealthy microorganisms.