Muehlenbeckia platyclada

Common Name: centipede plant 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Polygonaceae
Native Range: Solomon Islands New Guinea
Zone: 9 to 12
Height: 4.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Green to greenish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zone 9 where it is typically grown in moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates close to full shade but probably performs best in part shade locations. Established plants are somewhat tolerant of drought. Avoid wetting the foliage when watering the soils because of the susceptibility of this shrub to powdery mildew. This is an evergreen shrub which will tolerate temperature dips to about 25 degrees F. In cold winter climates, it may be grown outdoors in containers which must be brought indoors in fall for overwintering. Propagate by cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Muehlenbeckia platycladum, commonly known as ribbon bush or tapeworm plant, is an unusual mound-forming evergreen shrub from the knotweed family. It typically grows to 4-8’ tall. It is native to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. It is considered to be unusual because of its dense somewhat tangled mass of flattened, glossy, leafless, medium-green stems (phylloclades) which remain mostly upright until reaching 3’ tall or so at which point they begin to flop unless supported. Stems (to 1/2” wide) look like ribbons (hence the common name of ribbon plant) and have regularly spaced joints at the nodes (hence the common name of tapeworm plant). Tiny lanceolate leaves (to 1-2” long) appear on new growth but are usually short-lived and are often barely noticeable. Tiny green to greenish-white flowers bloom at the stem joints in spring. Flowers are followed by showy berries which mature to black in fall.

Genus name honors Henri Gustave Muehlenbeck (1798-1845) physician at Mulhouse, France.

Specific epithet comes from the Greek words platos meaning broad and klados meaning a branch in reference to the flat stems.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to powdery mildew. Watch for scale.


Where winter hardy, this shrub serves as an interesting garden accent. Excellent container plant for both outside patios and sunny indoor windows.