Commelina diffusa: Climbing dayflower

Family: Commelinaceae
Common name: Climbing dayflower, Spreading dayflower, Creeping dayflower

Climbing dayflower plants are one of the most commonly seen wild plants in tropical countries, spreading very quickly provided there is good rainfall and sunlight.

Though it’s a common weed in agricultural land, roadsides, open areas, and pastures, Climbing dayflowers have the most beautiful bright blue flowers with interestingly shaped petals.

They have 3 large blue petals set in a triangle shape with prominent yellow stamens. These plants are creepers that branch and spread very quickly with succulent green stems, having a reddish tint. The stems can grown as long as 1 meter, producing bright, glossy green leaves and brilliant, blue flowers.

Climbing dayflowers plants are found mostly in the Asian continent, China, Japan, India and Africa, but they have now spread to most regions of America and Europe, making it a truly universal weed. It flowers during spring, fall and summer dotting the ground with beautiful blue flowers.

Leaves are lance-shaped, sometimes with rounded tips, growing 3-8 cms long. They are glossy, with a prominent sunken midrib, very small petiole, and small bristly hairs especially along the lower surface. Flowers are solitary or in bunches of 2-3 dotted all along the plant on the tips of the stem.

Once pollinated the flowers small capsule-like fruits that contain small brown seeds, about 2-3 mm in diameter. Climbing dayflower plants spread so quickly that they are almost perennials in warm, tropical weather. These plants are very sturdy, withstanding heavy rains, and even flooding. They are capable of rooting at the stem nodes, and hence manual removal is completely useless.

Two closely related species are Commelina erecta and Commelina communis, distinguished by the color and size of petals, both of these species having a small white petal along with 2 blue petals. Commelina diffusa is also characterized by its crawling nature, whereas Commelina erecta grows upright as the name suggests.

Climbing dayflower plants are edible, the flowers and young shoots used in salads, and as potherbs. They also have some medicinal properties, and is used in the treatment of Vitamin C deficiency, scurvy, sores, wounds, fever, diarrhea, respiratory and urinary tract infections. The flowers also produce a dye that is used as food coloring, and also in painting.

Propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings, pieces of stem rooting easily at the nodes.