Family Araliaceae > Subfamily Aralioideae.
The Plant List recognises 586 species and ‘Flora’ 900.
Australia has 3 native species.
Many are used as garden or house plants.
They are much-branched trees, shrubs, lianas or epiphytes.
Trees in cultivation are 10 to 15 m high but some grow to 40 m in the wild.
They frequently have multiple trunks with greyish bark that develops small fissures.
Young branches may have stellate hairs that can be lost on older plants.
There are lenticels on the branches.
The leaves may be simple but are mostly palmate.
They are on petioles up to 80 cm long with bases that may slightly sheath the stem.
The up to 16 leaflets can be up to 35 cm long and 12 cm wide.
On any leaf the leaflets and their petiolules are of slightly different lengths.
Leaflets can be elliptic, oblong, lanceolate or ovate and the edges smooth or toothed.
The upper surface is a glossy dark green and the underside is paler.
The lower surface of young leaves may have dense brownish, sometime very small stellate hairs.
The inflorescences, up to 1 m or more long are terminal or arise just below a leaf.
There are hairy bracts that may persist or fall off.
Inflorescences can be compound umbels, a panicle, spikes, racemes or a head.
The inflorescence stalk, peduncles and pedicels may have dense stellate or branched hairs.
(An umbel is an inflorescence where all the parts arise from a common point at the top of
peduncle and they are on stalks (rays or pedicels) of roughly equal length.
A simple umbel is where each ray has only one flower.
In a compound umbel each ray has a number of secondary rays all arising at the tip.
The flowers clusters on these rays are secondary umbels or umbellules.)
The small bisexual or uni-flowers may or may not be on a pedicel.
There may be bracteoles below each flower.
Sepals may be absent or there are 5 tiny ones.
There are 5 or 6 (4 to 15) petals that may have stellate hairs.
Petals are often white or greenish but can also be yellow or red.
There are the same number of stamens as there are petals.
There may be a nectiferous disc.
The inferior or part-inferior ovary, of fused carpels has 5 to 20 locules.
There may be the same number of styles as there are carpels.
The styles can be separate or fused to various degrees.
Alternatively there may be no styles with the stigmas attached to the ovary.
The ovary, of 2 to 5 (many) fused carpels is typically inferior but may be part-inferior.
There are the same number of locules as carpels each with 1 (2) ovules.
The fruit are drupes or berries.