November 23
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Plant Genus of the family Araliaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Aralia An interesting genus of trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials, Aralia consists of around 40 species mostly from Southeast Asia and North America, with a small number from Central and South America. Most are deciduous and nearly all have large compound leaves. The flowers are small but numerous, usually cream, carried in small umbels that in turn are arranged in large panicles terminating the branches. They are followed by black fruits almost identical to those of Hedera (ivy) and Fatsia, to which Aralia is closely related. Some of the tree and shrub species have prickly stems and are inclined to sucker from the roots. Several of the tree aralias are grown as ornamentals in temperate gardens, valued for their foliage texture as well as their display of summer blossom. The roots and bark of several species have been used in traditional medicine, while the young shoots of the herbaceous A. cordata are an important vegetable (udo) in Japan, used like celery. Aralia once included plants now placed under Fatsia, Polyscias, Schefflera, Tetrapanax and several other genera. CULTIVATION: All the species known in cultivation will tolerate at least light frosts, but most need a warm, humid summer for best growth. They like a deep, reasonably fertile soil and shelter from strong winds. Although shade tolerant, they grow and flower better in the sun. Propagate from seed, which for the tree species may need cold stratification, or from root cuttings or basal suckers.
Eleutherococcus This genus of about 30 mostly deciduous prickly shrubs or trees native to southern and eastern Asia is related to the common ivy (Hedera) and sometimes has a sprawling habit. Small flowers appear from late spring to autumn in umbels of 5, the fruit is a black or purplish black drupe and the pinnate leaves consist of 3 to 5 leaflets. They are cultivated for their ornamental value and sometimes for use in traditional herbal medicine. CULTIVATION: A sunny position is preferred, in well-drained, sandy or loamy soils. Propagation is from seed sown in spring or by root division, or the separation of suckers in autumn.
Fatsia This genus within the family Araliaceae contains only 3 evergreen species of thick-leafed small trees and shrubs whose natural habitat is the moist coastal woodlands of South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. These plants make good specimen plants for courtyards and terraces. They tend to sucker from the base, producing stems which can be trimmed off if necessary. The advantage here is that not only do the suckers make a fuller shrub, but the main stem can be cut out if it becomes unsightly. Tolerant of both pollution and salt spray and moderately frost hardy, in colder areas fatsias make good indoor and conservatory plants. Fatsias are grown mainly for their ornamental leaves. The variegated cultivars are less frost tolerant. CULTIVATION: Fatsias prefer moisture-retentive soil in sun or part shade. In warm climates they can be grown under trees. In shade they will even tolerate dry soil that is nutrient deficient, but will do better in reasonably fertile soil. In colder areas they need the protection of a south or west-facing wall. Under glass and in pots they need a loam-based compost, regular feeding, and watering during the growing season. Propagate from seed sown in autumn, from cuttings or by air-layering.

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