Pilea microphylla (L.) Liebm.

Last updated: 29 Jul 2015

Scientific Name

Pilea microphylla (L.) Liebm.


Adicea microphylla Kuntze, Chamaecnide microphylla Nees ex Miq., Dubrueilia microphylla (L.) Gaudich., Parietaria microphylla L., Pilea muscosa Lindl., Pilea portula Liebm., Pilea serpyllacea (Kunth) Liebm., Pilea succulenta Hook. f., Urtica microphylla (L.) Sw., Urtica serpyllacea Kunth [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Katumpangan [2]
English Artillery plant, gunpowder plant [2][3], artillery weed, pistol plant, rockweed [4]
China Xiao ye leng shui [4]
Indonesia Katumpangan (Jakarta); akar nasi, jalu-jalu bobudo (Moluccas) [3]
Philippines Alabong (Igorot) [3]; isang dakot na bigas [4]
Vietnam Ph[as]o b[oo]ng, l[aw]n t[aw]n [3]
Japan Kogome-mizu [4].

Geographical Distributions

Pilea microphylla is originated from South and Central America, but has escaped from cultivation and is widely spread in other tropical and subtropical regions such as Africa, Madagascar and Asia. In Southeast Asia, it is naturalised, such as long since in Java, and also in towns in Peninsular Malaysia and the Philippines, but also elsewhere. In temperate regions, it is a greenhouse weed, but locally (e.g. in the United States) it occurs persistently outdoors in flowerbeds and lawns. [3]

P. microphylla occurs on old walls, dams, roads and pathways while in Java up to 1400 m altitude. [3]

Botanical Description

P. microphylla is a member of the Urticaceae family. It is a small, monoecious, annual or short-lived perennial herb which can grow up to 30 cm tall, but usually smaller, often much-branched and forming mats. [3]

The stems are drooping or ascending when older, juicy and usually smooth. Short side-shoots are often present in leaf axils. [3]

The leaves are arranged opposite, but the leaves of a pair are of very unequal size, simple and generally entire, obovate to elliptical or ovate, measuring 1-15 mm x 0.5-4 mm, rounded to wedge-shaped at base, rounded to obtuse at apex, hairless, with prominent cystoliths above and indistinctly veined. The petiole is 0.5-6 mm long. The stipules are minute and caducous. [3]

The inflorescence is an axillary, small, cymose cluster, which is 1-4 mm long, sessile or with stalk, usually with a few male and 5-10 female flowers. The flowers are unisexual, small, 3-merous and subsessile. The male flowers are with subequal perianth segments and 3 stamens while the female flowers are with unequal perianth segments, superior and with 1-celled ovary. [3]

The fruit is ovoid, 1-seeded, 0.5-1 mm long, smooth and brown. [3]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

No documentation.

Plant Part Used

No documentation.

Traditional Use

No documentation.

Preclinical Data

No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of P. microphylla. [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Pilea microphylla (L.) Liebm. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Apr 18; cited 2015 Jul 28]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2546452
  2. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR; 2002. p. 221
  3. Pilea microphylla (L.) Liebm. In: Lemmens RHMJ, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia 12(3): Medicinal and Poisonous Plants 3. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publication; 2003.
  4. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p. 569.