Plumier ex Linnaeus

Sp. Pl. 1: 40. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed.; 5:25, 1754.

Common names: Dayflower widow's-tears
Etymology: for the two Dutch botanists Jan and Kaspar Commelijn, because of the two showy petals
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 22.

Herbs, perennial or annual. Roots thin or tuberous. Leaves 2-ranked or spirally arranged, not glaucous; blade sessile or petiolate. Inflorescences terminal, leaf-opposed; cymes 1–2, enclosed in spathes, proximal cyme several-flowered, distal cyme vestigial or with 1–several staminate flowers; spathes often filled with mucilaginous liquid, margins distinct or basally connate; bracteoles usually absent. Flowers bisexual and staminate, bilaterally symmetric; pedicels well developed; sepals distinct or proximal 2 connate, unequal; petals distinct, proximal petal often different color than distal 2, smaller or subequal, distal 2 blue (occasionally lilac, lavender, yellow, peach, apricot, or white), clawed; stamens (5–)6, proximal 3 fertile, medial different in form, size from others, distal (2–)3 staminodial; filaments glabrous; antherodes commonly 4–6-lobed; ovary 2–3-locular, ovules 1–2 per locule, 1-seriate. Capsules 2–3-valved, 2–3-locular. Seeds 1–2 per locule; hilum linear; embryotega lateral. x = 11–15.


Almost worldwide, mainly tropical.


Species ca. 170 (9 in the flora).


1 Spathes with margins distinct to base. > 2
1 Spathes with margins connate basally. > 5
2 Perennials with erect to ascending stems; roots tuberous; leaves linear to linear-lanceolate Commelina dianthifolia
2 Annuals or perennials usually with decumbent to scandent stems; leaves narrowly lanceolate to ovate-elliptic. > 3
3 Spathes generally whitish or pale green toward peduncle with contrasting, dark green veins; proximal petal white or paler than others; capsules 2-locular; seeds rugose pitted-reticulate Commelina communis
3 Spathes without contrasting veins; proximal petal ± concolorous with others; capsules 3-locular; seeds reticulate or smooth to faintly alveolate. > 4
4 Spathes not at all to slightly falcate; distal cyme usually vestigial (rarely well developed, 1-flowered); seeds smooth to faintly alveolate Commelina caroliniana
4 Spathes usually distinctly falcate; distal cyme in larger spathes usually well developed, 1–several-flowered; seeds reticulate Commelina diffusa
5 Flowers apricot- or peach-colored Commelina gambiae
5 Flowers blue (rarely lilac to lavender or white). > 6
6 Leaf sheaths with auricles at summit; roots stout; proximal petal white, minute; locules all 1-seeded Commelina erecta
6 Leaf sheaths not auriculate; roots thin; proximal petal blue to lilac or lavender, conspicuous; some locules usually 2-seeded. > 7
7 Perennials with erect to ascending stems; leaf sheaths with red hairs at summit; leaf blades 6–20 cm; spathes 1.5–3.5 cm; subterranean, cleistogamous flowers absent Commelina virginica
7 Annuals or perennials with ascending to decumbent, repent or scrambling stems; sheaths with or without red hairs at summit; leaf blades 1.5–7(–9) cm; spathes 0.5–2 cm; subterranean, cleistogamous flowers sometimes present. > 8
8 Leaf blades ovate to lanceolate-elliptic; sheaths often with red hairs at summit; lateral stamen filaments not winged; capsules usually 5-seeded Commelina benghalensis
8 Leaf blades oblong to lanceolate-oblong or oblong-elliptic; sheaths without red hairs; lateral stamen filaments winged; capsules usually 1-seeded Commelina forskaolii
... more about "Commelina"
Robert B. Faden +
Plumier ex Linnaeus +
Dayflower +  and widow's-tears +
Almost worldwide +  and mainly tropical. +
for the two Dutch botanists Jan and Kaspar Commelijn, because of the two showy petals +
brashier1966a +, faden1993a +  and pennell1916a +
Commelina +
Commelinaceae +