Castor-Aralia – Kalopanax pictus

Castor-Aralia – Kalopanax pictus
Ivy or Ginseng Family: Araliaceae
Also commonly called castor-leaved aralia.
USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 7

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Castor-Aralia foliage and bark
Castor aralia has 5-7 lobed leaves and wicked thorns up to 1 cm long on bark and twigs.
Family Araliaceae – Ivy or Ginseng Family
The Araliaceae comprise about 70 genera and 700 species of flowering shrubs, trees, climbing vines and herbs. The fruit is a berry or (rarely) a drupe (one-seeded fruit).

Castor-aralia is native to China, Korea and Japan. A slow-growing deciduous tree growing to 60 ft. and spreading equally wide under cultivation, young trees have a coarse, open growth habit. Mature trees fill in their branches and foliage into a robust, rounded crown forming dense shade.

Castor-Aralia Bark

One-inch diameter flowers appear in dense, 12 to 24-inch-long terminal panicles and attract quite a few bees. The small black fruit which ripens in early fall is eagerly consumed by birds. Autumn colors are not showy, faint red [3]. (I'll try to visit this tree in the fall.)

Castor-Aralia Habit
Young (this one is 23 years old) Castor-aralia are known for a gaunt habit.
A long-lived tree, Castor-Aralia should be grown in full sun on well-drained soil but will tolerate alkaline soil. Seeds germinate readily in the landscape. The large size and coarse texture make it best suited for large-scale landscapes, such as golf courses, parks, business complexes and campuses. [3]

1. Kalopanax pictus, Morton Arboretum accession 191-87*1, photographed May 3, 2010 by Bruce Marlin
2. Ricinus communis photograph courtesy Geographer under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0 Generic license
3. Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson, USDA Forest Service Fact Sheet ST-335, "Kalopanax pictus"

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