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Family: Araliaceae Juss.

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Family Parent: Apiales Status: Valid

Common Names:

  • GINSENG FAMILY - English, United States of America
  • ARALIA FAMILY - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Family Recognition in the Field: The only nc TX species is an introduced, woody, evergreen vine with alternate leaves exhibiting leaf dimorphism-at least some leaves are 3-5 palmately lobed; flowers small in solitary or racemose umbels; fruit a small drupe. The similar Apiaceae (e.g., small flowers in umbels; inferior ovary) are herbaceous and have schizocarp fruits while Araliaceae are usually woody with drupes or berries.


Ecology: All species are potentially poisonous in nature.

Notes: A medium-sized (1,325 species in 47 genera), mainly tropical family with a few in temperate regions. It contains trees, shrubs, lianas, woody epiphytes, or rarely herbs; leaves are often large and compound. The family includes a number of ornamentals (e.g., Hedera, Schefflera) as well as the economically important Panax quinquefolius L. (GINSENG), which supposedly acts as a stimulant and aphrodisiac. The Araliaceae are closely related to the Apiaceae and probably paraphyletic when treated separately. From a cladistic standpoint they should be lumped to form a more inclusive monophyletic family, which based on nomenclatural rules should be called Apiaceae (Judd et al. 1994). Family name from Aralia , a genus of 36+ species of North America, e Asia, and Malaysia; some are edible or used medicinally. Aralia spinosa L., (spiny), HERCULES'-CLUB, DEVIL'S-WALKINGSTICK, occurs in se and e TX just e of nc TX and would not be unexpected on the e margin of nc TX. It is a shrub or tree to 12 m or more tall, with alternate decompound leaves to 1(+) m long, coarsely prickly stems and petioles, umbels in a large, terminal, compound panicle, white petals, 2-3 mm long, and black berries 4-6 mm in diam. The leaves and fruits are reported as potentially poisonous (Hardin & Brownie 1993). (From the French-Canadian name, aralie ) (subclass Rosidae)