Herbs, erect or ascending, rarely rooting at nodes. Stems unbranched, short. Leaves spirally arranged; blade usually abaxially purple, adaxially green, strap-shaped, to 35 ´ 5 cm (distal leaf blades wider or narrower than sheaths when sheaths opened, flattened), leathery, succulent, glabrous. Inflorescences axillary, sessile, or pedunculate in axils well below shoot apex, cymes enclosed in pairs of boat-shaped spathes. Flowers distinctly pedicillate; pedicels glabrous; sepals distinct, white, 3--6 mm, glabrous; petals distinct, white, ovate, not clawed; stamens free; filaments bearded. Capsules 3- or (by abortion) 2-locular, 3--4 mm. Seeds 1 per locule, 3--4 mm. 2n = 12 (Belize). Flowering winter (Jan). Occasionally escaped to hammocks and weedy places; introduced; Fla.; Mexico; West Indies; Central America. Tradescantia spathacea is native to southern Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies.