Back to Biodiversity Explorer main pageGo to Iziko Museums of Cape Town home pageAbout Biodiversity Explorer - history, goals, etc.Send us your questions about southern African biodiversityPeople who have contributed content and images.Search Biodiversity Explorer

Family: Araliaceae (ivy and ginseng family)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Asterids > Euasterid II > Order: Apiales

There are about 59 genera and 800 species in this family, which occurs in most parts of the world with the Malaysian region being particularly species rich. Six genera and 72 species are indigenous in southern Africa, two species are naturalised and an additional 10 genera and 21 species are cultivated.

Genera native to southern Africa

Based on Bredenkamp (2000).

Centella

Fifty species, all native to southern Africa but with some species occurring as far north as Malawi and one species, Centella asiatica, also occurring in Asia. Centella used to be in the family Apiaceae but has been transferred to the Araliaceae on the basis of genetic evidence (Plunkett, Soltis & Soltis 1997).

Cussonia

The 25 species are native to tropical and southern Africa, as well as the Mascarene Islands. There are 12 species in southern Africa.

 

Hydrocotyle

About 130 species, distributed worldwide with six indigenous and one naturalised species in southern Africa. Hydrocotyle used to be in the family Apiaceae but has been transferred to the Araliaceae on the basis of genetic evidence (Plunkett, Soltis & Soltis 1997).

Polyscias

One species is native to southern Africa, and another three species from SE Asia and the Pacific are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Schefflera

About 200 species, native to Africa, Madagascar, the Far East and New Zealand. There are two species native to southern Africa and four species cultivated in the region.

Schefflera umbellifera

Seemannaralia

The single species, Seemannaralia gerrardii, is native to southern Africa.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

Based on Bredenkamp (2000).

Aralia

Aralia chinensis (from China), Aralia racemosa (from North America) and Aralia spinosa (also from North America) are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Dizygotheca

Dizygotheca elegantissima is native to New Caledonia and is cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Fatsia

Fatsia japonica (Yatsude) is native to Japan and is cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Hedera (ivies) 

About 9-11 species, all climbers, native to North Africa, Canary Islands, the Azores, Madeira, and from Europe to Himalayas, China, Korea and Japan. Common Ivy or English Ivy Hedera helix is a commonly grown garden climber. Hedera canariensis (Canary ivy) and Hedera colchica (Persian ivy) are also cultivated in gardens in southern Africa.

Hedera helix

Heteropanax

Heteropanax fragrans, native from India to Indonesia, is cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Meryta

Meryta denhamii (native to New Caledonia) and Meryta sinclairii (Puka - native to New Zealand) are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Neopanax

Neopanax arboreus (New Zealand cabbage tree) and Neopanax laetus (Red-ribbed cabbage tree - also from New Zealand) are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Pseudopanax

Pseudopanax lessonii (Houpara - native to New Zealand) is cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Tetrapanax

Tetrapanax papyriferus (Rice-paper tree) is native to Taiwan and is cultivated in southern Africa. The pith of the tree is used to produce rice paper.

 

Trevesia

Trevesia palmata is native from India through to China and is cultivated in southern Africa.

 
 

Other genera of note

Panax (Ginseng genus)

Ginseng is extracted from the roots of species in this genus, particularly Panax pseudoginseng ( from China, Korea), Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng - native to eastern N America). Ginseng is regarded as a stimulant with supposed aphrodisiac properties.

 

Publications

  • Bredenkamp, C.L. 2000. Araliaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 99-100. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

  • Cannon, J.F.M. 1978. Araliaceae. Flora zambesiaca 4: 621-632.

  • Plunkett, G.M., Soltis, D.E. & Soltis, P.S. 1997. Clarification of the relationship between Apiaceae and Araliaceae based on MATK and RBCL sequence data. American Journal of Botany 84: 565-580.

  • Reyneke, W.F. 1981. 'n Morfologies-taksonomiese studie van die familie Araliaceae in suidelike Afrika. D.Sc. study, University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

  • Strey, R.G. 1981. Observations on the morphology of the Araliaceae in southern Africa. Journal of Dendrology 1 (3&4): 66-83.

 

Contact us if you can contribute information or images to improve this page.

Biodiversity Explorer home   Iziko home   Search