Artillery Plant, Rockweed, Gunpowder Plant
Syn. Parietaria microphylla
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 Linnaeus and documented as such in Systema Naturae in 1759.
The genus, Pilea Lindl., was named and described by John Lindley in Collectanea Botanica in 1821. Plants of the World Online list 405 accepted species in the Pilea genus when I checked on 3-7-18. The 2013 version of The Plant List, there were 279 accepted species (plus 7 infraspecific names), 261 synonyms (plus 68 infraspecific names) and 468 names still unresolved. The Plant List is no longer maintained but I still like to go there and compare it with current statistics. As you can see, progress was made.
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.
Common Name: Artillery Plant
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.
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. To 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…
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.
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.