Pilea microphylla-Artillery Plant

Pilea microphylla (Artillery Plant) on 6-1-14, #228-64.

Artillery Plant, Rockweed, Gunpowder Plant

Pilea microphylla

py-LEE-uh my-kro-FIL-uh

Synonyms of Pilea microphylla (22) (Updated on 2-12-21): Adicea microphylla Kuntze, Chamaecnide microphylla Nees ex Miq., Dubrueilia microphylla (L.) Gaudich., Parietaria microphylla L., Pilea aripoensis Britton, Pilea callitrichoides Schltdl., Pilea herniarifolia Blume, Pilea microphylla var. longifolia Wedd., Pilea microphylla var. portulacoides (Wedd.) Wedd., Pilea muscosa Lindl., Pilea muscosa var. microphylla (L.) Wedd., Pilea muscosa var. portulacoides Wedd., Pilea peperomiifolia Liebm., Pilea portula Liebm., Pilea portulacina Blume, Pilea subcrenata Blume, Pilea succulenta Hook.f., Pilea trianthmoides var. microphylla (L.) Wedd., Urtica herniarifolia Willd., Urtica microphylla (L.) Sw., Urtica portulacina Spreng., Urtica portulacoides Spreng.

Pilea microphylla (L.) Liebm. is the correct and accepted scientific name of this plant. It was documented as such by Frederik Michael Liebmann in Kongelige Danske videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter, Naturvidenskabeli Mathematisk Afdeling in 1851. It was first named Parietaria microphylla by Carl von Linnaeus and documented as such in Systema Naturae in 1759.

Accepted intraspecific names: Pilea microphylla var. domingensis (Groult) Acev.-Rodr., Pilea microphylla var. nanophylla Groult, Pilea microphylla var. succulenta Griseb.

The genus, Pilea Lindl., was named and described by John Lindley in Collectanea Botanica in 1821.

Plants of the World Online lists 604 species in the Pilea genus (as of when I updated this page on 2-12-21). There were 405 when I last updated this page in 2018. It is a member of the plant family Urticaceae with 57 genera. These numbers could change as updates are made (and likely will).

I bought my first Pilea microphylla from Wagler’s Greenhouse in 2014 and my second in 2016. I think they are a neat plant with a tree-like appearance.


Pilea microphylla (Artillery Plant) on 6-29-14, #230-75. I placed the pots between bricks so the wind won’t blow them over.

Common Name: Artillery Plant.
Family: Urticaceae.
Type: Herbaceous perennial.
Zones: USDA 11-12.
Origin: Mexico down into Brazil.
Size: Up to 12+” tall x 12+” wide.
Flowers: Umm… green.
Light: Part-shade. Bright indirect light.
Soil: Peat-based potting mix.
Water: Medium. They need ample water during their growing season but should be decreased from fall through late winter. Soil should also be allowed to dry out somewhat between waterings.
Maintenance: Low.

Pilea microphylla (Artillery Plant) on 7-12-14, #231-75.

The Artillery Plant is very easy to grow in pots with a peat-based potting mix such as Miracle Grow. They do best in part shade or bright indirect light. Too much afternoon sun is not good. They can be grown inside in the winter, but they appreciate high humidity so occasional misting is appreciated. Placing their pot in something with a bed of wet pebbles is a good idea.

The leaves are very tiny and the strange little green flowers grow all along the stem. The male flowers explode to discharge their pollen which is where the name Artillery Plant comes from.

It is considered an invasive species in many countries…

Pilea microphylla (Artillery Plant) on 7-19-16, #274-58.

I really enjoy growing this care-free plant. I never had any problems with insects or anything. SO, I would recommend it if you want a small, tidy little plant.

Pilea microphylla growing in the pot with one of the Pitcher Plants on 8-1-11, #68-40.

I almost forgot to mention my first encounter with the Artillery Plant. I had bought a couple of Pitcher Plants from Wellspring Gardens in 2009 and after a couple of years this strange plant came up in the pot. I didn’t know what it was until I bought one from Wagler’s. Then I remembered it was the same plant that had grown in the pot with the Pitcher Plant.

There are four local greenhouses here and Mast’s Greenhouse usually has A LOT of Pilea microphylla. Maybe I should purchase another one in 2019.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


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