AraliaceaeGinseng family






Identification
  - Leaves alternate, and spiraled, either simple, sometimes lobed, or palmately compound.
  - Simple leaves are 3-veined with inconspicuous teeth or entire.
  - Intra-petiolar stipules, sometimes large and tongue-shaped.
  - Carrot odor.
  - Often with stellate hairs.
  - Tiny white to green flowers in branched inflorescences terminating in umbels or heads.
  - Fruit a small berry with up to seeds.

Diagnosis: 1. Trees, shrubs, or hemi-epiphytes with inconspicuous stipules fused to petiole base, leaves simple, alternate, with sparse crenations to almost entire, usually at least weakly 3-veined, sometimes lobed, petioles varying in length, juvenile leaves often with lateral lobes, may have unpleasant odor in bark, often with stellate hairs. 2. Trees or hemi-epiphytes, either with inconspicuous stipules fused to petiole base or conspicuous ligulate stipules, leaves alternate, palmately compound, petioles varying in length, may have carrot odor in bark.

Local distribution: Most diverse in cloud forest.

Similar families
Bombacaceae: free stipules, simple hairs, and mucilage.
Capparidaceae: minute free stipules, lateral veins pinnate.
Rutaceae: translucent yellow dots, simple hairs.

Diversity: Total: 3 genera, 18 species. Trees: 3 genera, 7 species.

Comments: Araliaceae, especially Oreopanax and Schefflera, are extremely abundant and conspicuous hemi-epiphytes in the high cloud forest. Oreopanax xalapensis, a legitimate tree with palmate leaves, is common and widespread above 1200 m.



Credits: Images and text copyright 2000-2007, William A. Haber, http://efg.cs.umb.edu/