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Homalocladium platycladum (F.J.Muell. ex Hook.) L.H.Bailey 1929
pronounced: hoh-mal-oh-KLAY-dee-um plat-ee-KLAD-um
(Polygonaceae — the dock family)
synonym: Muehlenbeckia platyclados (F.Muell.) Meisn. 1865
pronounced: mew-len-BEK-ee-uh plat-ee-KLAD-oss
Common names: Ribbon Plant, Tapeworm Plant, Centipede Plant
The authorities are not certain at present which of these two names is the correct one for the plant. Homalocladium is derived from the Greek 'ομαλος (homalos), flat, even, and κλαδιον (kladion), a small branch; platycladum is from πλατος (platos), in breadth, and κλαδος (klados) a branch. Muehlenbeckia is for Henri Gustave Muehlenbeck (1798–1845), a French physician who investigated the flora of Alsace.
This is an erect, tall (to about 1 m) shrubby plant from the Solomon Islands with broad, flat, thin, articulate, delicately striate, ribbon-like cladodes. The leaves are sessile, membranous, entire, often lobed at the base, lanceolate, 1.5–6.5 cm long; the leaves are short-lived, and some plants are even leafless. Older plants make fewer leaves. The ochreae are 1–2 mm long, ovate, and obtuse.
There are 1–6 greenish white flowers in sessile clusters at alternate joints, bracteate, the bracts ovate and about 1 mm long. There are 5 perianth segments, greenish, oblong, 1–15 mm long. There are 8 stamens. The ovary is ovoid, triangular, about 1 mm long, and there are 3 styles.
The nuts are enclosed in the fleshy deep red or purplish perianth.
The plant can be propagated either by seeds or by stem cuttings. It may also be potted and used as a house or patio plant. In the garden, it will grow in full sun to full shade, but seems to do best in partial shade.
Photographs taken 2011, Picnic Bay
Page last updated 12th December 2016