ARALIACEAE – Schefflera, Schefflera actinophylla, Schefflera arboricola,Schefflera elegantissima,


Aralia family, ginseng family

Araliaceae includes 47- 84 genera of shrubs, trees, woody climbers, epiphytes, and raraly herbs, which are widely distributed but most diverse in Indonesia and the Americas. This family could also be more broadly circumscribed  in the family Apiaceae. Hedera and Polyscias are frequently cultivated as foliage plants in temperate and tropical climates. Some species are armed with prickles. Leaves are leathery, often deeply divided or compound and spirally arranged. Juvenile leaves sometimes differ from adult leaves. Flowers are reduced and bisexual, or unisexual with male and female flowers on the same plant (monoecious) or on different plants.


Schefflera includes approximately 650 species of shrubs, trees, and climbers, which are widely distributed but most abundant in the Americas, mainland and maritime Southeast Asia, and Oceania. Only a few species are widely cultivated, primarily as foliage plants. Leaves are usually palmately compound, the leaflets on short stalks. Flowers are reduced and not individually ornamental, but large inflorescences are showy. Inflorescences are mostly umbels or spikes. Schefflera actinophylla is a commonly grown, self  seeding pest that is prohibited in Florida. The seeds are distributed by birds, especially exotic wild parrots.

Schefflera actinophylla

Schefflera, queensland umbrella tree, octopus tree, chefflera

Synonym; Brassaia actinophylla. New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia, widely distributed. Evergreen tree to 35 ft, zones 10-11. Blooms summer. Moderate moisture. Average, well drained soil. Full to part sun. Flowers: reduced, dark – red, inflorescence with long spokelike branches. Leaves: palmately compound, leaflets about 12, obovate to 1 ft.long, margins undulate, petioles to 16 in. This erect, fast growing tree is slightly salt tolerant. Seeds often start epiphytically in other trees and palms, quickly overwhelming the host. Invasive in Hawaii. Prohibited in South Florida. Removal strongly recommended.

Schefflera arboricola

Dwarf umbrella tree, dwarf schefflera, arboricola

Synonym: Heptapleurum arboricolum. Taiwan, southern China. Evergreen shrub, 8- 12 ft, zones 10-11. Blooms winter. Moderate moisture. Average, well drained soil. Full to part sun. Flowers: reduced, fruit an orange berry turning purple – black. Leaves: palmately compound, about 10 leaflets, 4-6 in.long. These shrubs are  popular hedge plants. So far, this species does not seem to be invasive. The variegated form has irregular cream markings on the leaflets.

Elegant schefflera, false aralia

Synonyms: Aralia elegantissima, Dizygotheca elegantissima. New Caledonia. Evergreen shrub or small tree, 6-20 ft; +, zones 10-11.  Blooms fall. Moderate moisture. Average, well drained soil. Bright broken light, part sun. Flowers: in terminal umbels. Leaves: palmate, leaflets 7-11, lanceolate, black to dark green, midvein light green, fuvenile leaflets 6-10 in.long, margins widely toothed, petiole white spotted, adulf  form with larger leaflets. An erect foliage plant, sparsely branching, primarily from the base. Bloom rarely seen in cultivation. Suitable for containers.

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