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Pilea cadierei Gagnep. & Guillaumin 1938
pronounced: py-LEE-uh kad-ee-AIR-eye
(Urticaceae — the nettle family)
common name: Aluminium Plant
Pilea is derived from the Latin pilleus, a close-fitting cap, and refers to the shape of the female flower; cadierei is named for R.P. Cadiere, who collected this plant in Vietnam in 1938 and introduced it to Europe.
The genus Pilea consists of about 400 herbs, shrubs or subshrubs, annual or perennial, and glabrous. The stems may be simple or branched, erect, ascending, or repent. The leaves are opposite, with stipules. The flowers are unisexual, with staminate and pistillate flowers in the same cyme. Pilea occur naturally in most tropical and sub-tropical regions worldwide, except for those of Australia.
This plant is grown for its attractive foliage. The dark green leaves have silver markings between the veins, looking as thought they have been splashed with aluminum paint. The flowers are small and insignificant, and indoor plants rarely flower and fruit. The plant propagates easily by stem tip cuttings in spring or summer, or by division. The best foliage is always on new plants, and some gardeners replace their plants each year with the new ones they have grown. Stem tips may be pinched as required to keep the plant compact.
This is an upright herbaceous perennial that typically grows in a shrubby clump up to about 30 cm tall. The dentate dark green leaves are elliptic to obovate, with each leaf having 4 rows of upraised silver patches. The leaves are opposite on square green stems. The small white flowers are produced at the ends of the stems in the summer. The plants like high humidity, and do not tolerate direct sun without burning of the leaves. They do like plenty of light, however, and will tend to grow leggy when they do not receive enough.
Photographs taken at Picnic Bay 2009
Page last updated 20th January 2017