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, or Ming Aralia
, is a perennial dicot evergreen shrub or dwarf tree native to India. The plant grows fairly slowly but can reach up to 1 to 2 meters in height. The leaves are of a dark green pigment, glossy in texture, and are tripinnate and appear divided. Individual leaves vary from narrowly ovate to lanceolate and are about 10 cm long.
The Ming Aralia is widely cultivated in several countries of southeastern Asia and the tropical islands of the Pacific region. It was originally located in Polynesia and thrives in environments of medium humidity, with temperatures varying from 16-29°C (60-85°F).
The name Polyscias
means many-shaded, in reference to the foliage found on these plants. Their stalks carry compound leaves with up to seven (or more) opposite leaflets. In several species the leaves are deeply lobed. There are about six species of the genus Polyscias
which are actively cultivated. The genus contains a variety of tropical plants which include about 80 species from the Pacific islands and Southeast Asia.
The family, Araliaceae, to which the Polyscias
genus including Ming Aralia belongs, gives rise to a multitude of trees or shrubs that contain gum and resin ducts. As a whole, the family contains plants that have leaves of alternate, palmately or pinnately compound or simple, with stipules. The inflorescences are generally umbellate, and often arranges in compound umbels, caouttules, panicles or races. They possess flowers of smaller size than the dioecious which are bisexual or unisexual. This family also includes a multitude of popular house plants, including English ivy, as well as the herb ginseng. Araliaceae is known as the ginseng family, which is where the traits of the Ming Aralia spice and medical herb originate. Plants of this family can be found throughout the Neotropics, for the greater part in mountainous regions and much less in the lowlands.
Besides being a house plant…
In Asian countries, the leaves of the Polyscias fruticosa
are used as a tonic, anti-inflammatory, antitoxin, and an antibacterial ointment. They have also been proven to be an aid in digestion. The root is also used as a diuretic, febrifuge, anti-dysentery, and is employed for neuralgia and rheumatic pains. Alongside with medicinal purposes, Polyscias fruticosa
is also used as an ornamental plant and a spice.
A recent study on this plant by Vo Duy Hunan and colleagues, has afforded two known oleanolic acid saponins from the leaves, and polyacetylenes from the roots. This shows antibacterial and antifungal activities. The volatile leaf oils were also studied and isolated to find eight new oleanolic acid saponins, named polysciosides A to H, and three known saponins.
House Plant Care
When considering this plant for home aesthetics you should keep in mind the optimum Polyscias fruticosa
need full sun to partial shade or high interior lighting. When grown in the greenhouse, the soil mixture should consist of two parts peat moss to two parts loam to one part sand or perlite. When watering, keep in mind that the plant ought to be kept moist and should never be allowed to dry thoroughly. Also note that during the winter months, water should be restricted, but the plant should never be allowed to dry out completely. The plants should be fertilized only three times during the growing season using a balanced fertilizer diluted to half the strength recommended on the label. Since the plants are fairly slow growers, very little pruning is needed to keep the desired form. However, remember that unlike plants that branch sideways, the Ming Aralia grows vertically. Trimming is useful in keeping the desired height as well as shape. The tips are trimmed in order to encourage more rapid branching and thickening of the trunk. The joints, closely set, then produce a thick growth of branches and a dense covering of leaves, which is an ideal look for this particular plant. The stems weave back and forth, creating a complex interlocking arrangement. As the plant ages, the lower branches die off, leaving a corky surface that is gnarled where the branches had been. This appearance is what attracts many people to adopting these plants for decoration of their homes and offices.
Araliaceae Family (Ivy Family)
are a family of flowering plants, also known as the Aralia
family (after its type genus Aralia
) or ivy
family. The family includes 254 species of trees, shrubs, lianas and perennial herbaceous plants in two subfamilies. Species usually bear pinnately or palmately compound leaves, and usually have small flowers produced in large panicles.
The family from tropical area origin is present in cooler climates, too. They are found in the Americas, Eurasia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Pacific islands. Araliaceae bear essential oils, or without essential oils can be resinous and heterophyllous. It presents many shapes, includes some trees and ivies as the angelica tree (devil's walking-stick, Aralia spinosa
), the devil's club (Oplopanax horridus
spp., including Hedera helix
and herbs as ginseng Panax
spp., a native of Korea and used as medical herb. Leaves are simple, or compound, sometimes lauroid (resembling Laurus) or peltate, or not peltate; when compound, ternate, or pinnate, or palmate.
The systematics of Araliaceae are currently under study, and taxonomic changes and novelties are to be expected. Endemic Araliaceae are found in the pluvial montane forest, very humid montane, and humid lowland river forest regions. They are present, too, in laurel forest, cloud forest and warm, humid habitats. The family is closely related to Apiaceae and Pittosporaceae, and the boundaries between these families and other members of Apiales are still uncertain. Some recent systems included Araliaceae in an expanded Apiaceae, but this has not been widely followed. Molecular phylogenies suggest at least some of the genera traditionally included in Apiaceae as subfamily Hydrocotyloideae appear to be more closely related to Araliaceae, and the inclusion of Hydrocotyle and Trachymene in Araliaceae has been recommended.
The generic level classification of Araliaceae has been unstable; in particular, numerous genera have been synonymized under Schefflera. Recent molecular phylogenies have shown this large pantropical genus is polyphyletic and some believe it should be divided again into several genera, though these would probably not correspond with the previously recognized genera.