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33. Araliaceae

五加科 wu jia ke

Authors: Qibai Xiang & Porter P. Lowry

Pentapanax racemosus

Credit: Harvard University Herbaria

Trees or shrubs, sometimes woody vines with aerial roots, rarely perennial herbs, hermaphroditic, andromonoecious or dioecious, often with stellate indumentum or more rarely simple trichomes or bristles, with or without prickles, secretory canals present in most parts. Leaves alternate, rarely opposite (never in Chinese taxa), simple and often palmately lobed, palmately compound, or 1-3-pinnately compound, usually crowded toward apices of branches, base of petiole often broad and sheathing stem, stipules absent or forming a ligule or membranous border of petiole. Inflorescence terminal or pseudo-lateral (by delayed development), umbellate, compound-umbellate, racemose, racemose-umbellate, or racemose-paniculate, ultimate units usually umbels or heads, occasionally racemes or spikes, flowers rarely solitary; bracts usually present, often caducous, rarely foliaceous. Flowers bisexual or unisexual, actinomorphic. Pedicels often jointed below ovary and forming an articulation. Calyx absent or forming a low rim, sometimes undulate or with short teeth. Corolla of (3-)5(-20) petals, free or rarely united, mostly valvate, sometimes imbricate. Stamens usually as many as and alternate with petals, sometimes numerous, distinct, inserted at edge of disk; anthers versatile, introrse, 2-celled (or 4-celled in some non-Chinese taxa), longitudinally dehiscent. Disk epigynous, often fleshy, slightly depressed to rounded or conic, sometimes confluent with styles. Ovary inferior (rarely secondarily superior in some non-Chinese taxa), (1 or)2-10(to many)-carpellate; carpels united, with as many locules; ovules pendulous, 2 per locule, 1 abortive; styles as many as carpels, free or partially united, erect or recurved, or fully united to form a column; stigmas terminal or decurrent on inner face of styles, or sessile on disk, circular to elliptic and radiating. Fruit a drupe or berry, terete or sometimes laterally compressed, occasionally vertically compressed, exocarp fleshy; pyrenes cartilaginous or membranous, often laterally compressed. Seeds 1 per pyrene, embryo small, endosperm uniform or ruminate.

About 50 genera and 1350 species: widespread in tropical and subtropical regions of both hemispheres, much less diverse in temperate areas; 23 genera (two endemic, one introduced) and 180 species (82 endemic, seven introduced) in China.

The two endemic genera are Sinopanax and Tetrapanax.

Chinese genera of economic importance include Aralia, Eleutherococcus, Heteropanax, Panax, and Tetrapanax (medicinal), Hedera (ornamental), Fatsia and Schefflera (medicinal and ornamental), and Kalopanax (timber).

Recent phylogenetic studies (Plunkett and Lowry, Molec. Phylogen. Evol. 19: 259-276. 2001; Wen et al., Syst. Bot. 26: 144-167. 2001; Chandler and Plunkett, Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 144: 123-147. 2004; Mitchell and Wen, Taxon 53: 29-41. 2004; Plunkett et al., S. Afr. J. Bot. 70: 371-381. 2004) have shown that Hydrocotyle Linnaeus belongs to Araliaceae, despite being traditionally included in Apiaceae (see Fl. China 14: 14-18. 2005).

Diplopanax Handel-Mazzetti was at one time placed in Araliaceae but is now regarded as a member of Mastixiaceae (see Fl. China 14: 231-232. 2005).

Hoo Gin & Tseng Chang-jiang. 1978. Araliaceae. Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 54: i-ix, 1-210.

Key emphasizing flower and fruit characters

1 Petals imbricate in bud   (2)
+ Petals valvate in bud   (4)
2 (1) Herbs; leaves 3-5, verticillate at apex of stem; ovary 2- or 3(-5)-carpellate.   23 Panax
+ Shrubs or trees, rarely herbs; leaves alternate, borne on branches; ovary (4 or)5- or 6-carpellate   (3)
3 (2) Inflorescence developing from specialized floral buds, usually surrounded by numerous persistent bracts at base; plants unarmed.   21 Pentapanax
+ Inflorescence developing from mixed buds also producing leaves, without persistent bracts at base; plants armed or unarmed.   22 Aralia
4 (1) Leaves 1-5-pinnately compound   (5)
+ Leaves simple, palmately lobed, or palmately compound   (6)
5 (4) Pedicels articulate below ovary; ovary 5-8-carpellate; cultivated plants usually with pungent aromatic odor.   19 Polyscias
+ Pedicels not articulate below ovary; ovary 2-carpellate; native plants without pungent aromatic odor.   20 Heteropanax
6 (4) Leaves palmately compound   (7)
+ Leaves simple or palmately lobed, occasionally deeply cleft   (14)
7 (6) Stamens 25 or more; ovary 20-70-carpellate.   1 Tupidanthus
+ Stamens 10 or fewer; ovary 2-12-carpellate   (8)
8 (7) Plants with prickles on stems   (9)
+ Plants unarmed   (10)
9 (8) Leaves palmately compound or trifoliolate, never simple, leaflets 3-5, petiole shorter than 12 cm, petiolules 0-1 cm; styles distinct or united at base.   18 Eleutherococcus
+ Leaves simple (entire or palmately lobed) or palmately compound, leaflets (3 or)4-9(-11), petiole longer than 12 cm, petiolules usually longer than 1.5 cm; styles united into a column.   12 Brassaiopsis
10 (8) Pedicels conspicuously articulate below ovary   (11)
+ Pedicels not articulate below ovary   (12)
11 (10) Styles free or united to only 2/3 their length; fruit laterally compressed; endosperm uniform.   16 Metapanax
+ Styles united into a column; fruit terete, ribbed when dry; endosperm ruminate or rugose.   17 Macropanax
12 (10) Ovary (4 or)5-11-carpellate; margin of leaflets usually entire, rarely remotely serrate; branches with long shoots only (short shoots absent).   15 Schefflera
+ Ovary 2(-4)-carpellate; margin of leaflets usually serrulate; branches with both short and long shoots (the latter not always preserved on specimens)   (13)
13 (12) Inflorescence a large, corymbose panicle of umbels; petals and stamens 5; ovary 2-carpellate, styles united into a column.   14 Chengiopanax
+ Inflorescence small, a simple or compound panicle of umbels; petals and stamens 4(or 5); ovary 2-4(or 5)-carpellate; styles free at least apically.   13 Gamblea
14 (6) Woody climbers, with aerial roots.   9 Hedera
+ Shrubs or trees, erect, without aerial roots   (15)
15 (14) Plants with prickles on stems   (16)
+ Plants without prickles on stems   (19)
16 (15) Ovary 7-12-carpellate; fruit usually 1-2 cm in diam..   2 Trevesia
+ Ovary 2-5-carpellate; fruit to 1(-1.2) cm in diam   (17)
17 (16) Fruit red-yellow at maturity; calyx with 2 spinelike lobes; inflorescence with dense, stiff prickles throughout; shrubs.   7 Oplopanax
+ Fruit black or bluish black at maturity; calyx 5-toothed; inflorescence glabrous or with scattered to fairly dense prickles; shrubs or trees   (18)
18 (17) Deciduous trees, hermaphroditic; styles united at base, with free arms; endosperm smooth; leaves clustered on short shoots and alternate on long shoots.   8 Kalopanax
+ Evergreen shrubs or small trees, andromonoecious or hermaphroditic; styles completely united into a column; endosperm ruminate or uniform; short shoots lacking, leaves borne only on long shoots.   12 Brassaiopsis
19 (15) Flowers sessile, arranged in small ca. 15-flowered heads.   4 Sinopanax
+ Flowers distinctly pedicellate, arranged in umbels   (20)
20 (19) Ovary (4 or)5-10-carpellate   (21)
+ Ovary 2-carpellate   (23)
21 (20) Petiole basally pectinate or fimbriate-lacerate; inflorescence trifid, with a central umbel of sterile bacciform flowers ("pseudo-fruit").   5 Osmoxylon
+ Petiole basally not pectinate or fimbriate-lacerate; inflorescence a panicle of umbels, or a simple or compound umbel   (22)
22 (21) Leaves 5-9(-11)-lobed, margin regularly toothed; ovary 5- or 10-carpellate.   3 Fatsia
+ Leaves entire or 2- or 3(-5)-lobed, margin entire or with scattered irregular teeth; ovary (3-)5-carpellate.   10 Dendropanax
23 (20) Pedicels articulate below ovary.   16 Metapanax
+ Pedicels not articulate below ovary   (24)
24 (23) Branches stout, with an evident white pith; stipules 2, awl-shaped, 7-8 cm.   6 Tetrapanax
+ Branches slender, without an evident white pith; stipules obsolete or inconspicuous   (25)
25 (24) Leaves red or yellow glandular punctate, glabrous, margin entire or with few narrow triangular teeth.   10 Dendropanax
+ Leaves not glandular punctate, glabrous or stellate pubescent, margin usually serrate   (26)
26 (25) Inflorescences both terminal and axillary; styles free or united at base; disk inconspicuous.   11 Merrilliopanax
+ Inflorescences either terminal or axillary; styles completely united into a column; disk conspicuous, convex.   12 Brassaiopsis

List of Keys

  • List of lower taxa


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