|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Araliaceae (from the genus Aralia, the meaning of which is unknown). Ginseng Family. Fig. 45. Herbs, shrubs, or trees, often prickly or climbing: stems solid, pithy: leaves usually alternate, simple, or pinnately or ternately compound: flowers bisexual or unisexual, small, regular, epigynous, commonly in umbels; sepals minute, often almost wanting; petals 5, rarely more, valvate or imbricated, sometimes cohering at the apex and deciduous as a cap; stamens usually 5, alternate with the petals, and inserted at the edge of an epigynous disk, rarely twice or thrice as many; ovary inferior, 2-15-celled; cells 1-ovuled; styles as many as the carpels: fruit a berry, rarely splitting into segments.
Fifty-one genera and about 400 species are distributed in tropical and temperate regions of both hemispheres. The two great centers of distribution are tropical America and the Malay Peninsula. The family is very closely related to the Umbelliferae, but differs in the berry-like fruit with more numerous carpels.
The leaves of the English ivy (Hedera Helix) were used in medicine in olden times. The roots of ginseng (Panax Ginseng and Panax quinquefolium) are much prized in China where they are carried about on the person as a charm against disease. These roots are now extensively and profitably cultivated in America for the Chinese trade. The roots of Aralia nudicaulis (American sarsaparilla) are considered a tonic. Chinese rice-paper is made from the pith of Tetrapanax papyriferum simply by cutting the pith spirally into thin sheets. Many Araliaceae are grown as ornamental plants.
Many genera are cultivated in America. Among these are: Acanthopanax; Aralia (including Spikenard, Hercules' Club or Devil's Walking-club, Wild Sarsaparilla, Bristly Sarsaparilla, Chinese Angelica Tree); Dizygotheca; Fatsia; Oreopanax; Polyscias; Pseudopanax; Hedera (English Ivy); and Panax (Ginseng).CH
- Subfamily Aralioideae
- Subfamily Hydrocotyloideae
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963