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33. Araliaceae

五加科 wu jia ke

Authors: Qibai Xiang & Porter P. Lowry

Panax japonicus

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 vegetative characters

1 Plants armed with prickles   (2)
+ Plants unarmed   (8)
2 (1) Leaves pinnately or palmately compound   (3)
+ Leaves simple   (5)
3 (2) Leaves 1-3-pinnately compound.   22 Aralia
+ Leaves palmately compound   (4)
4 (3) Leaflets 3-5, petiole shorter than 12 cm, petiolules 0-1 cm; styles distinct or united at base.   18 Eleutherococcus
+ 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
5 (2) Ovary 7-12-carpellate; fruit usually 10-18 cm in diam..   2 Trevesia
+ Ovary 2-5-carpellate; fruit to 10(-14) mm in diam   (6)
6 (5) Shrubs, deciduous; fruit red-yellow at maturity; calyx with 2 spinelike lobes; inflorescence with dense, stiff prickles throughout.   7 Oplopanax
+ Shrubs or trees, evergreen; fruit black or blue-black at maturity; calyx 5-lobed; inflorescence glabrous or with scattered to fairly dense prickles   (7)
7 (6) Leaves clustered on short shoots and alternate on long shoot; styles united at base, with free arms.   8 Kalopanax
+ Branches without distinctly differentiated short and long shoots; styles completely united into a column.   12 Brassaiopsis
8 (1) Leaves simple, entire or palmately lobed   (9)
+ Leaves palmately or pinnately compound   (16)
9 (8) Ovary 2-carpellate   (10)
+ Ovary (4 or)5-10-carpellate   (13)
10 (9) 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   (11)
11 (10) Flowers sessile, arranged in small ca. 15-flowered heads.   4 Sinopanax
+ Flowers pedicellate, arranged in umbels   (12)
12 (11) Branches stout, with evident white chambered pith; inflorescences terminal; stipules 2, awl-shaped, 7-8 cm.   6 Tetrapanax
+ Branches slender, pith narrow and solid; inflorescences both terminal and axillary; stipules obsolete or inconspicuous.   11 Merrilliopanax
13 (9) Leaves entire or 2- or 3-lobed, lobes usually entire or with few narrow triangular teeth   (14)
+ Leaves 3-10-lobed, lobes usually dentate or serrate   (15)
14 (13) Plant creeping or climbing, with aerial roots; leaves not glandular punctate.   9 Hedera
+ Erect shrubs or trees without aerial roots; leaves usually red or yellow glandular punctate.   10 Dendropanax
15 (13) Leaves 3-7-lobed, petiole basally pectinate or fimbriate-lacerate; inflorescence trifid, central axis with an umbel of sterile bacciform flowers ("pseudo-fruit").   5 Osmoxylon
+ Leaves 5-9(-11)-lobed, stipule indistinct; inflorescence a panicle of umbels.   3 Fatsia
16 (8) Leaves pinnately compound   (17)
+ Leaves palmately compound   (20)
17 (16) Petals valvate in bud   (18)
+ Petals imbricate in bud   (19)
18 (17) Cultivated plants with a pungent aromatic odor, usually glabrous; leaves 1-pinnate (rarely 2- or 3-pinnate, and then leaflets less than 2 cm wide); ovary 5-8-carpellate; fruit terete, ovoid or globose.   19 Polyscias
+ Native plants without a pungent aromatic odor, usually pubescent when young; leaves 2-5-pinnate; ovary 2-carpellate; fruit laterally compressed or compressed-globose.   20 Heteropanax
19 (17) Deciduous shrubs or small trees, unarmed; inflorescences developing from specialized floral buds, basally usually surrounded by numerous persistent bracts.   21 Pentapanax
+ Perennial herbs, unarmed or prickly; inflorescences developing from mixed buds also producing leaves, basally without persistent bracts.   22 Aralia
20 (16) Herbs; leaves verticillate at apex of stem.   23 Panax
+ Shrubs or trees; leaves alternate along stem   (21)
21 (20) Ovary 5- to many carpellate   (22)
+ Ovary 2-4(or 5)-carpellate   (23)
22 (21) Ovary (4 or)5-11-carpellate; stamens 5-11; petals 5-8, usually distinct and separating at anthesis, thin, papery or leathery.   15 Schefflera
+ Ovary 20-70-carpellate; stamens 25 or more; petals united into a calyptra, thick, leathery, becoming woody when dry.   1 Tupidanthus
23 (21) Pedicels articulate below ovary; leaves abaxially without domatia or secretory structures   (24)
+ Pedicels not articulate below ovary; leaves abaxially with domatia or secretory structures in axils of secondary veins   (25)
24 (23) 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
25 (23) 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 umbel or panicle of umbels; petals and stamens 4(or 5), ovary 2-4(or 5)-carpellate; styles free at least apically.   13 Gamblea

List of Keys

  • List of lower taxa


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