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 (5) (Updated on 1-16-23 from Plants of the World Online): Dubrueilia microphylla (L.) Gaudich., Parietaria microphylla L., Pilea muscosa var. microphylla (L.) Wedd., Pilea trianthmoides var. microphylla (L.) Wedd., Urtica microphylla (L.) Sw.
Synonyms of Pilea microphylla var. domingensis (Groult) Acev.-Rodr (1) (Updated on 1-16-23 from POWO): Pilea succulenta var. domingensis Groult
Synonyms of Pilea microphylla var. microphylla (autonym) (18) (Updated on 1-16-23 from POWO): Adicea microphylla Kuntze, Chamaecnide microphylla Nees ex Miq., 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. alba W.Bull, Pilea muscosa var. portulacoides Wedd., Pilea peperomiifolia Liebm., Pilea portula Liebm., Pilea portulacina Blume, Pilea subcrenata Blume, Pilea succulenta Hook.f., Urtica herniarifolia Willd., Urtica portulacina Spreng., Urtica portulacoides Spreng.
Synonyms of Pilea microphylla var. nanophylla Groult (0) updated on 12-19-21 from POWO):
Synonyms of Pilea microphylla var. succulenta Griseb. (1) (Updated on 12-19-21 from POWO): Pilea succulenta (Griseb.) Groult

Pilea microphylla (L.) Liebm. is the 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 Infraspecific Names: Pilea microphylla var. domingensis (Groult) Acev.-Rodr., *Pilea microphylla var. microphylla (autonym), Pilea microphylla var. nanophylla Groult, Pilea microphylla var. succulenta Griseb. *When an infraspecific taxon is named, an autonym (“type-specimen”) is automatically generated whose description is closest to the (original) species. All have their own list of synonyms…

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

As of 1-16-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 606 species in the Pilea genus. It is a member of the plant family Urticaceae with 60 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

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 carefree 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.

Pilea microphylla (Artillery Plant) on 7-19-2016, #274-58.

I haven’t brought any Pilea microphylla home for several years but there is always a supply at one of the three local greenhouses.

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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