The Ribbon Bush is a terrific, leaf-less plant from the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific with long, flattened stems resembling tapeworms - hence its nickname "Tapeworm Plant". It's hard to capture the unusual beauty of this plant in pictures. This is an awesome, offbeat plant that will get people asking: "What the heck is that??". This plant needs very little care, makes a great houseplant, and is very hard to find.
The Ribbon Bush (Homalocladium platycladum) is an odd member of the rhubarb and buckwheat family. The name for the genus comes from the Greek words 'homalus' meaning "flat" and 'klados' meaning "a branch" and the specific epithet is from the descriptive botanical word platyclade, which is used to describe flattened, photosynthetic shoots, branches or stems which comes from another Greek word 'platy', that also means "flat". The common names Centipede Plant or Tapeworm Plant aptly describe the stems. What you see are the stems. The plant does make small leaves, but they only appear occasionally on the new growth. The segmented stems are perfectly flat, and are smooth and durable. They branch out and weave their way up eerily, forming a tall, bushy mass of ribbons. Once it reaches 4 or 5 feet tall, it tends to flop over unless you stake it upright. But the stems continue to grow upward regardless, giving it an artsy, eccentric look! In bright light, the plant produces white flowers and attractive red fruit.