FZ volume:4 part:0 (1978) Araliaceae by J. F. M. Cannon
An easily-recognized family of 50–60 genera, occurring throughout the tropics and especially well represented in the Malaysian region; relatively poorly represented in temperate areas.
Trees, shrubs, lianes, suffrutices (very rarely herbaceous outside the F.Z. area). Leaves alternate (rarely opposite), simple, pinnate or digitate; often coriaceous, glabrous or with a simple or stellate indumentum, the leaves of juvenile shoots often differing considerably from those of mature foliage; stipules frequently conspicuous. Flowers small, hermaphrodite (monoecious or dioecious outside the F.Z. area), actinomorphic; arranged in umbels, racemes or in compound combinations of these structures. Calyx inconspicuous, with the tube adnate to the ovary. Petals (4)5(10), valvate or slightly imbricate, usually free but sometimes joined to form a calyptra. Stamens free, alternating with the petals and usually similar in number, but occasionally more numerous; anthers opening by longitudinal slits. Ovary inferior, with 2–8 locules; styles often forming a distinct stylopodium and only free at the apex, sometimes free throughout. Ovules solitary in each loculus, anatropous, pendulous. Fruit a berry or drupe. Seeds endospermous, endosperm smooth or ruminate; embryo very small.
Some species are grown in tropical Africa as decorative plants, including Schefflera actinophylla, Didymopanax morototoni and Polyscias guilfoylei var. laciniata.A general review of the family in tropical and southern Africa is given by Bamps in Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg. 44: 101–139 (1974). Tennant, in F.T.E.A., Aral.: 1 (1968), draws attention to several characteristic and well-marked teratological conditions that may be encountered in species of Cussonia and Polyscias.