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Family Araliaceae

Description: Trees, shrubs, climbers, or scramblers [or rarely herbs], evergreen [or deciduous], glabrous or with branched (often stellate) or simple hairs (sometimes restricted to new growth).

Leaves alternate, [rarely opposite or whorled,] the bases often clasping the stem, simple, pinnately or palmately compound, margins entire or toothed or variously lobed; stipules usually inconspicuous, free [or fused to petiole] or absent.

Inflorescence rarely racemose, commonly a loose compound panicle or umbel, terminal [or rarely axillary]; flowers pedicellate or sessile, pedicels articulated near the receptacle or continuous with it. Flowers actinomorphic, usually small, bisexual or unisexual and then plants monoecious or dioecious, mostly 4- or 5-merous. Calyx lobed or reduced to a rim [or rarely absent], persistent in fruit. Petals 4 or 5 [rarely 3 or many], free or forming a calyptra [rarely forming a tube], usually not persistent in fruit, imbricate or valvate in bud. Stamens 4–many, often as many as petals and alternating with them, both inserted around an epigynous disk, usually not persistent. Ovary inferior or semi-inferior [or very rarely superior], surmounted by a secretory disk, commonly 2–5-locular [or 1 to many locular]; 1 ovule per loculus; styles as many as ovary loculi, free or variously fused, persistent.

Fruit laterally compressed or ± globose drupes or schizocarps; endosperm smooth or ruminate.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 40 genera, c. 1900 species, mainly tropical regions. Australia: c. 12 genera, c. 120 species, all States.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Araliaceae, Order: Apiales)
Wikipedia

A number of species, particularly of Hedera (Ivy) and Schefflera, are cultivated for their ornamental foliage or habit. The pithy stem tissue of Tetrapanax papyrifer (Hook.) K.Koch is the traditional material for making rice-paper. Hydrocotyle and Trachymene were formerly placed in Apiaceae.

Text by M.J. Henwood & R.O. Makinson; tentatively updated January 2017, updated by K.L. Gibbons, 14 Apr. 2020.
Key modified by K.L. Gibbons 14 Apr. 2020, from Flora of NSW key and Plunkett, GM et al. (2018) Araliaceae, pp. 413-446, in Kadereit, JW, Bittrich, V (eds) Flowering Plants. Eudicots, The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants 15. (Springer Nature, Switzerland)
Taxon concept:

 Key to the genera 
1Fruits dry schizocarps with 2 mericarps2
Fruits fleshy drupes4
2Herbaceous annuals, biennials or perennials3
Shrubs or small trees
                       Back to 1
Astrotricha
3Leaf bases sheathing, without stipulesTrachymene
Leaf bases not sheathing, with stipules
                       Back to 2
Hydrocotyle
4Leaves simple, margins entire to deeply lobed5
Leaves pinnately or palmately compound with 3 or more leaflets
                       Back to 1
6
5Woody creeper (rarely shrubby with age), with aerial roots; mature leaves glabrous; styles fully fusedHedera
Shrubs or small trees; mature leaves densely hairy on lower surface; styles free
                       Back to 4
Tetrapanax
6Leaves 3-foliolate; climber or scrambling shrub with retrorse bristles; flowers sessile (or occasionally subsessile) in small racemose or paniculate inflorescencesCephalaralia
Leaves usually more than 3-foliolate; shrubs or trees (sometimes epiphytic as juveniles), glabrous or glabrescent; flowers sessile or pedicellate, solitary or in umbels
                       Back to 4
57
7Leaves pinnately compound (divisions to the third degree); flowers pedicellate, solitary or in umbelsPolyscias
Leaves palmately compound; flowers sessile in umbels
                       Back to
Schefflera

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