Commelina communis (Asiatic Dayflower)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Commelina
Family:Commelinaceae (Spiderwort)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:Asia
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist soil; waste areas, roadsides, edges of woods, thickets
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular

[photo of flower] Stalked flowers, single or in small clusters, at the tips of branching stems and arising from leaf axils near the top of the plant. Individual flowers are ½ to 1 inch across and have 3 petals. The upper 2 petals are round and bright blue; the lower petal is much smaller, white and notched into 3 rounded lobes. In the center are 3 small, sterile stamens and a 4th stamen with a larger, butterfly-shaped tip, all 4 typically with a spot of maroon in the center of the yellow tip. Below are a style and 2 fertile stamens; all 3 are long, curving and white to yellowish.

[photo of spathe] Behind the flower is a folded, leafy bract (spathe) that is up to 2 inches long and half heart-shaped in outline. The spathe is hairless and open at the top all the way to its base. Each flower lasts for a single day, hence the common name.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaf] Leaves are up to 5 inches long and 2 inches wide, lance-elliptic with pointed tips, a rounded base, no stalk, faint parallel lines along the length, toothless, hairless but may be rough textured on the upper surface, and widely spaced on the stem.

[photo of sheath and stem] The leaf base extends to form a sheath up to 1 inch long, surrounding the stem, with a few long hairs around the tip edge and short hairs along the front seam but otherwise hairless. Stems are hairless, erect or prostrate but rising at the tip (decumbent), usually rooting at the nodes.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a 2-sectioned capsule, each section containing 2 dark brown to black seeds.

Notes:

Asiatic Dayflower is a potentially invasive weed much more common to our south and east, though its presence in the Upper Midwest is growing. There is a similar species, Slender Dayflower (Commelina erecta), a rare native, which (so far) has only been recorded in Minnesota in Wabasha County. Its spathe is fused at the top for most of its length, has narrower leaves, the yellow stamens lack the maroon spot, and is variously covered in stiff hairs on spathes, leaves, sheaths and stem, where Asiatic Dayflower is mostly hairless.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Barbara - South Maplewood close to Vista
on: 2009-08-13 10:12:25

I just spotted this flower this morning growing at the edge of the woods at the back border of my yard. The blue petals are very beautiful. Thanks for posting information about this wildflower. It's nice to know what it is.

Posted by: Lynn - St. Louis Park
on: 2010-05-01 19:28:16

I transplanted this from my in-law's yard (next door). At the time didn't realize how invasive it was. But the rare deep, rich blue petals are worth it! I've shot numerous photos of it.

Posted by: Robyn - Litchfield
on: 2011-06-28 23:35:13

I found this plant growing in the alley in town. It is such an unusual looking flower. Thanks for helping me ID it!!

Posted by: Robbi - St. Cloud
on: 2011-07-09 00:37:24

Thought I had gotten rid of it all in 2007, then regretted it in the last few years. It popped up again this spring and I am happy to see it.

Posted by: Chris - St. Paul
on: 2011-07-13 08:22:35

This plant pops up everywhere in my yard. I let it grow in some areas, but pull it where it tries to take over. I do love its pretty little orchid like flowers.

Posted by: jean - New Brighton
on: 2011-07-23 11:35:20

i have this in my garden and thought it was a sterile asiatic lily as it came up near my stargazers. i never let it bloom, just pulled it out. this summer, i have it in a different spot in my garden and it bloomed due to weed neglect...it is so delightful!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2011-07-23 14:58:44

This stuff is along the trails in the woods west of Rush Lake in New Brighton. Yeah, it's pretty, but it doesn't belong there. It doesn't belong in Minnesota at all--it adds nothing to the local ecology. :( You should not call this a wildflower, even if seen growing in the wild somewhere. It is not a wildflower, but a plant that escaped from someone's garden.

Posted by: Diana - NE Minneapolis
on: 2011-08-06 21:29:20

At last I know what this is. It first popped up the backyard of my former house (also in NE Mpls), amongst the alyssum. Now it's in my new gardens and I have been searching everywhere to try to find out what it is. Thank you! I only have three plants and I'll be yanking them up in the morning. Sure, they are very pretty. But when you think that this plant will out-compete any of the native species I've been planting (and even any of the hopefully tame sedum, cosmos, zinnias and flowering kale), then clearly it's a danger to the native ecosystem. This year I see so many more butterflies - I don't know if it's because they are losing so much countryside habitat or if it's because more people are growing milkweeds and I have lots of butterfly plants in my yard now. But I'm getting rid of any non-natives that spread and are hard to take out. We have enough lovely native species that will feed the birds, bees and butterflies. Thank you for this website - it's wonderfully helpful!

Posted by: Sue - Eagan
on: 2011-08-21 09:22:28

This showed up in my garden about 8 years ago. I've been trying to decide what to do with it, let it grow, pull it out, etc. In the meantime it's been moving around my perennial gardens. At least for this year, I'm letting it go. Thank you for helping me to identify it, so I can research it's invasive properties.

Posted by: Stephanie - Oakdale
on: 2011-09-06 15:28:16

I got this from my mother. Always end up pulling some every year. This year I let it take residence in a few areas. I love the little faces in the true blue flowers.

Posted by: Diana - NE Mpls
on: 2011-09-21 19:40:00

Out of 8 comments, only two of us pulled this non-native species up - and the rest think it's pretty enough to leave growing? I'm confused. I guess that's why I'll be pulling up this, Campanula Rapunculoides, creeping charlie, and now trying to destroy the clump of Japanese Knotweed I just discovered, for the rest of my life. Thanks, neighbors!

Posted by: Lynn - Stillwater
on: 2012-05-07 21:40:53

I have been trying to get rid of Commelina communis as soon as I see its first leaf in the spring with round up but it is resistant to round up is popping up again this spring. Any suggestions on how to get rid of it? I do not pull it cause I heard it seeds underground as well and spreads that way too. I heard heavy mulching works but that will be my last resort. Any other chemical that would work?

Posted by: Susan - Mahtomedi
on: 2013-08-07 12:43:11

I've been noticing this non-native wildflower growing in our yard the last few years. This year it is really taking over! I love the vibrant blue flowers, and I let it grow where nothing else will. Fortunately it's really easy to pull up where I don't want it to grow.

Posted by: Holly - Ham Lake area
on: 2013-08-14 16:46:15

Would love to find out how to get rid of it. It's taking over my flower gardens no matter how many times I pull it. HELP! As started in a prior post, I've also discovered that Round Up does not kill it.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2013-08-14 17:22:17

Holly, it's an annual so round-up, which is intended to kill perennials, won't have any effect. The issue is the seed bank, which could take several years to deplete. About all you can do is keep pulling it up as it sprouts. It should diminish over time.

Posted by: Starr - Minneapolis
on: 2014-07-12 14:20:32

Great site for flower id! I have tons of these lovely little cobalt blue flowers in my yard. They are invasive but easily held back by weeding to keep them in the field stone border. They are my favorite in the garden and best grown in masses.

Posted by: Nancy - W. St. Paul
on: 2014-07-15 16:49:16

We have these in our gardens - they are pretty and not too invasive it seems, so I just leave them-I have lots of far worse stuff to get rid of (quackgrass, dandelions, creeping charlie, etc.)

Posted by: ChrisDee - Mounds View
on: 2014-07-22 00:40:28

I have a ton of it growing up from my neighbors yard. It has taken over one section of my garden. I refuse to use round up or any other poisons so I just keep pulling them out by hand.Through hard work and tenacity I just may rid my yard of that and the ever present creeping charlie. Now theres a noxious weed if ever I saw one. Can't believe I saw it for sale at Menards several years ago.

Posted by: Carole Gernes - Ramsey County Cooperative Weed Management Area
on: 2014-09-30 11:40:48

I've discovered this plant growing along the Gateway trail, Maplewood MN and near a restored wetland in North St,. Paul, MN. I highly recommend control of this plant. I suspect that it may spread by seed with mowing or by adhering to feet.

Posted by: Jane - Inver Grove Heights
on: 2014-10-14 17:08:56

This Asiatic Dayflower is like a zombie! It won't die! You can pull a clump, shake off the dirt, leave it out on pavement to dry out in the sun, come back a week later, and find it alive with green leaves. It is a pain to pull out of the lawn and garden. I suspect it hitched a ride in a previous owner's bag of mulch. It would have been great if the previous owner knew that this was a non-native pest. I removed every stalk, plant, leaf and flower I could find from my yard and garden. Hopefully there will be less of it next spring.

Posted by: Kelly
on: 2015-03-03 15:25:55

The DNR plant checklist lists Commelina erecta as a native, and endangered, at that. I am curious as to how you determine native status. I'm also curious as to how the DNR and USDA do as well, as they frequently have discrepancies. The USDA did not list either of these 2 species, so they had no input on native status. Incidentally, I've had one of the two in my south Minneapolis back yard, but eradicated it because it was too aggressive and not all that impressive.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-03-03 21:08:34

Kelly, for rare plants we follow whatever status the DNR sets on species. You can check out their rare species guide to see what criteria they use to make their determinations. USDA should follow whatever the DNR status is, but USDA is very slow to update so a lot of their information is probably outdated. Their distribution maps are very much outdated, which is why we make our own.

Posted by: sheryl
on: 2015-06-30 14:21:03

has anyone seen Asiatic day flowers in menomonie or near by in Wisconsin?? I come from ct and love these. one grew in a plant I came with, but I cant find any local plants

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-07-05 10:03:57

Sheryl, while we appreciate the beauty of Asiatic dayflower, it escapes cultivation and can infest natural areas in this region. It is difficult enough as is to keep the balance of native ecosystems, but is even more challenging when we intentionally plant species that have shown themselves to be problematic. If you want blue flowers in your garden, why not try some natives instead?

Posted by: Jennifer - St. Cloud
on: 2015-09-10 21:26:04

I have a bunch of these rooting and colonizing my little sidewalk garden here in St. Cloud, about three blocks east from the Mississippi River. They are very pretty and very tough!

Posted by: Kevin - Winona
on: 2015-09-11 15:15:46

We have nice patches of them here. They are more purple than blue, however.

Posted by: John - Big Woods - Delano, MN
on: 2017-07-16 06:27:30

I am also astonished many people in this posting are not deathly afraid of this highly invasive exotic. We have spent 10 years ridding our 25a woodland of Garlic Mustard, Buckthorn, and a host of other invasive plants. We have caught Asian Dayflower early, but I would say it potentially is as difficult to control as Garlic Mustard. It spreads like wildfire and as someone mentioned it is very difficult to kill before it goes to seed. Two applications of Roundup will do the job. Hand digging also works. Put the plants in your garbage to be taken out. Mark areas where plants have been removed with survey flags and monitor and control for at least 7 years to make sure no seeds have germinated. Then watch for it the rest of your life.

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