Aralia elata

Aralia elata (Miq.) Seemann

Common Names

Tsi tsiu, wu jia (China), medara-noki, me-taranoki (Kanagawa, Japan), taranoki (Tokyo, Japan)

Languages: English


General Description

Shrubs or treelets, 1.5-7 m tall. DBH up to 15 cm. Stem usually pricky, rarely inermis, sometime pickles in rows nearly encircling the stem; bark brownish gray or gray. Leaves bipinnate, 70-125 cm long, 50-90 cm wide, with 3-5 pinnae, each 5-15-foliolated, 20-45 cm long; stipules basal or nearly so, narrowly triangular, 1-1.5 cm long; petioles pubescent or becoming nearly glabrescent, umarmed, greenish; rachises subtended with a pair of accessory leaflets, rarely with a pair of 5-foliolated accessory pinnae; leaflets ovate to broadly ovate, sometimes narrowly ovate to lanceolate, chartaceous, 6-15 cm long, 3.5-8.5 cm wide, acute to acuminate at apex, rounded to obtuse, occasionally subcordate at base, serrulate to serrate, lateral veins 7-9 pairs, adaxial surfaces green, slightly rugose, sometimes scabrid, abaxial surfaces glaucous or brownish glaucous, pubescent to densely pubescent, sometimes pilose, pilose on veins, or glabrous, petiolules 0-6 mm long. Inflorescences terminal, 25-55 cm long, 35-80 cm wide, umbellately paniculate, branching in 3 to 4 orders, lacking a main axis or with a very short one, less than 12 cm long, consisting of 5-8 primary branches, each 30-55 cm long, yellowish green when young, turning into pink at fruiting, bracts and bracteoles persistent, secondary bracts lanceolate to triangular, ciliate, 4-10 mm long, bracteoles lanceolate, ciliate, 1.5-2 mm long; umbels 6-15-flowered, pedicels 1-6 mm long, pubescent. Floral buds yellowish green. Flowers greenish white. Sepals minute, triangular to rounded. Petals ovate, 1.8-2.2 mm long. Filaments 2-2.5 mm long; anthers yellowish white, oblong, 0.7-1.2 mm long. Ovary 5-locular; styles distinct. Floral disc projected. Fruit globose to subglobose, ca. 4 mm in diameter, purplish black.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun


Diagnostic Description

Aralia elata differs from A. chinensis L. in the former’s less pubescent leaflets and inflorescences, glaucous (vs. green) abaxial leaflet surface, coronulate (vs. striated) cuticles on abaxial leaflet surface, fewer flowers (7-25 vs. 20-50) and shorter pedicels of terminal umbels [1.5-10 mm (usually 4-7 mm) vs. 10-20 mm (usually 12-15 mm)].
Aralia elata closely related to A. dasyphylloides. The major differences between these two species lie in the aggregation of flowers into heads (A. dasyphylloides) or umbels (A. elata), and densely tomentose (A. dasyphylloides) or somewhat pubescent to glabrous (A. elata) leaves.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun


There are some reports for the chromosomal data of Aralia elata. All counts are 2n = 24 (Sokolovskaya, 1966; Sun et al., 1988; Wu, 1995; Yi et al., 2004). The base chromosome number of A. elata has been suggested to be x = 12 (Wen, 2002).

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun


Aralia elata is characterized by its lack of a main inflorescence axis or with a very short one (less than 12 mm long), secondary inflorescence braches consisting of many umbels (more than 7, rarely a few), leaflet margins serrulate to serrate, petioles usually unarmed, and bracts small (secondary bracts 4-10 mm long) and narrowly triangular.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun

Ecology and Distribution


Flowering from July to September.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun


Aralia elata is the most widely distributed species within Aralia, occurring in Anhui, Chongqing, Fujian, Gansu, Guangxi, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces of China, Japan and Korea.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun


The phylogeny of Aralia sect. Dimorphanthus has been inferred using the ITS sequences of nuclear ribosomal DNA (Wen, 2000). The ITS phylogeny suggests a close relationship among Aralia elata, A. dasphylloides, and A. scaberula.
Aralia elata and A. dasphylloides have largely allopatric distributional areas with overlapping boundaries. A. dasphylloides is mostly distributed in southern China and also occurs (but is not common) in eastern and central China. A. elata has a more northern distribution and is most frequent in central and eastern China and Japan. It seems reasonable to hypothesize that A. elata perhaps gave rise to A. dasphylloides via geographical speciation (Wen, 2004).
Based on the morphological variation, Wen (1993) provided a generic delimitation of Aralia, in which Arala elata belong to section Dimorphanthus.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun


Growing in hillside, roadside, streamsides, disturbed areas, forest edges, along ravines, thickets and secondary forest; from sea level to 2100 m.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun


  • Aralia canescens Siebold & Zucc. (synonym)
  • Aralia spinosa var. canescens (Siebold & Zucc.) Franchet & P. A. L. Savat. (synonym)
  • Aralia chinensis var. canescens (Siebold & Zucc.) Koehne (synonym)
  • Aralia elata var. subinermis Ohwi (synonym)
  • Aralia elata var. canescens (Siebold & Zucc.) Pojarkova (synonym)
  • Aralia spinosa var. glabrescens Franchet & P. A. L. Savat (synonym)
  • Aralia chinensis var. glabrescens (Franchet & P. A. L. Savat.) Schneider (synonym)
  • Aralia elata var. glabrescens (Franchet & P. A. L. Savat.) Pojarkova (synonym)
  • Aralia chinensis var. nuda Nakai (synonym)
  • Aralia hupehensis Hoo (synonym)
  • Aralia subcapitata Hoo (synonym)
  • Aralia emeiensis Z. Y. Zhu (synonym)


Sokoslovskaya, A. P. (1966).  Geograficheskoe rasprostranenie poliploinykh vidov rasteniy. (Issledovanie flory Primorskogo Kraya). Vestnik Leningr. Univ., Ser, Biol.. 3,
Sun, B. Y., Kim C. H., & Soh W. Y. (1988).  Chromosome numbers of Araliaceae in Korea. Korean J. Pl. Taxon. 18,
Wen, J. (1993).  Generic delimitation of Aralia L. (Araliaceae). Brittonia. 45,
Wen, J. (2000).  Internal transcribed spacer phylogeny of the eastern Asian and eastern North American disjunct Aralia sect. Dimorphanthus (Araliaceae) and its biogeographic implications. Intl. J. Pl. Sci.. 161,
Wen, J. (2002).  Revision of Araia sect. Pentapanax (Seem.) J. Wen (Araliaceae). Cathaya. 13-14,
Wen, J. (2004).  Systematics and biogeography of Araia sect. Dimorphanthu (Miq.) Miq. (Araliaceae). cathaya. 15-16,
Wu, Z. M. (1995).  Cytological studies on some plants of woody flora in Huangshan, Anhui Province. J. Wuhan Bot. Res.. 13,
Yi, T. S., Lowry II P. P., Plunkett G. M., & Wen J. (2004).  Chromosomal evolution in Araliaceae and close relatives. Taxon. 53,