New Zealand Talk Show Host calls for renaming weed

January 3, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Popular New Zealand radio personality Bruce Russell has called for a new name to be given to the noxious weed ‘The Wandering Jew”.

On his highly-rated  NewstalkZB, Russell described the weed as being the worst in the country on his “worst weeds list” during a gardening segment.

But he added: “The Jews wandered for years. They’ve got their homeland. Maybe it needs a name change, do you think?”

The Oxford Dictionary defines “wandering Jew” as:

  •     a legendary man said to have been condemned by Christ to wander the earth until the Second Coming.
  •     a person who never settles down.
  •     2a tender trailing tradescantia, typically having striped leaves which are suffused with purple.

Wandering jew


Bruce Russell

Bruce Russell

A native to South America, Wandering jew (Tradescantia fluminernsis) or as it’s some times called “Trad” is a fleshy-leaved creeping plant that grows as a ground cover.

It is popular in gardens as it establishes easily in moist shady areas.

Wandering jew has become a major environmental weed in many areas particularly along streams and gullies where it spreads quickly and out competes other natives.

In Australia, it appears that “jew” is not capitalised.




6 Responses to “New Zealand Talk Show Host calls for renaming weed”
  1. hilary says:

    I have seen this plant referred to in at least one gardening book as “wandering sailor” – a far better term.
    Likewise, the shrub kerria japonica, popularly known as “jew’s mallow” (it has golden blossoms) is alternatively known as “bachelor’s buttons” …

  2. Harry says:

    origins of the name “Wandering Jew” from Rabbi Apple’s website –

  3. Joel says:

    In New Zealand, the ‘Wandering Jew” is the” Wandering Jew,” and is referred to by its botanical name by a few select academics.
    It’s only through the likes of people such as Bruce Russell who like others in the media around the world, can draw attention to such obnoxious and anti-semitic references

  4. Lynne Newington says:

    Funny really, a friend having it growing in her garden and me reluctant to pull it up when asked with the same connection in mind.
    Another “idiocyncrancy” of mine so I’m told, also a young daughter who as a young girl, visibly upset if her hair brush is cleaned and hair thrown into the fire; that connection obvious.
    It must run in the family..

  5. Sue says:

    It’s also known as Wandering Willie, which is an OK alternative for people who want an ‘English’ name. As Shirlee says, many people these days call it tradescantia or ‘trad’. I think calling it Wandering Jew is quite offensive.

  6. Shirlee. says:

    I have always known it as Tradescantia.

    A noxious plant akin to a weed

    How on earth does he propose to change a slang name?

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