|Schefflera actinophylla in Hyderabad, India|
Brassaia actinophylla Endl.
Schefflera actinophylla is a tree in the family Araliaceae. It is native to tropical rainforests and gallery forests in northern and north-eastern Queensland coasts and the Northern Territory of Australia, as well as New Guinea and Java. Common names include Australia umbrella tree, Queensland umbrella tree, octopus tree and amate.
Schefflera actinophylla is an evergreen tree growing to 15 m (49 ft) tall. It has palmately compound medium green leaves in groups of seven leaflets. It is usually multi-trunked, and the flowers develop at the top of the tree. It often grows as a hemiepiphyte on other rainforest trees. It produces racemes up to 2 m (6.5 ft) long containing up to 1,000 small red flowers. Flowering begins in early summer and typically continues for several months.
The up to 1,000 flowers produced by the plant generate large amounts of nectar, attracting nectar-eating birds that pollinate them. The fruits are eaten by many birds and animals including musky rat-kangaroos, red-legged pademelons and spectacled flying foxes. Its leaves are a favourite food of the Bennett's tree-kangaroo.
Schefflera actinophylla is commonly grown in mild to warm climates as a decorative tree in larger gardens and, when mature, it has red spikes of flowers with up to 20 racemes which develop in summer or early autumn. Propagation is by seed or cuttings. It prefers well-drained soil and only needs occasional watering and feeding to thrive. It is, however, an aggressive plant and its roots can dominate surrounding soil. In some areas (e.g., Florida and Hawaii, USA), it is an invasive weed and therefore planting is highly unadvised.
With a minimum temperature of 13 °C (55 °F), juvenile specimens are grown in temperate regions as houseplants. This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
Tree canopy in Hyderabad, India
Tree in Kampala, Uganda
Rainbow lorikeets feeding on umbrella tree
Trunk in Hyderabad, India
Treein the Cooktown Botanic Gardens, Queensland
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- Beasley, John. (2009). Plants of Cape York: The Compact Guide. John Beasley, Kuranda, Qld., Australia. ISBN 978-0-9806863-0-2.
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- Data related to Schefflera actinophylla at Wikispecies
- Plantnet.rbgsyd: Detailed description of Schefflera actinophylla
- Hear.org: Schefflera actinophylla — with many images of Umbrella Trees
- Hear.org: information on Schefflera actinophylla as an invasive plant in Hawaii
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