Although a super cold hardy and quite resilient tree, the Tree aralia is a rarely seen in the gardens. The whorled, lobed leaves give it a tropical look, especially in gardens from cold regions. They can be variable in shape, with shallow lobes or cut nearly to the leaf base, resembling the ricin leaves (hence the Castor aralia).
Small, white flowers in large, round inflorescences appear in late summer, followed by ornamental black berries in late fall which are enjoyed by birds. The branches and the stem are covered in stout prickles – try to eat this, rabbit!
Germination: it varies depending on the seeds storage. Some say that it needs 2 years to germinate. The person who kindly offered me the seeds has ‘accidentally’ done an experiment which led to a rapid germination by the end of January and one gallon size potted seedlings by the end of fall. In short, the seeds were kept moist after cleaning and provided with periods of warm/cold temperatures for about 1-2 months; finally, after switching in the end to warm, the seeds started to germinate promptly. Unfortunately, we have reached the storage limit for moist stored seeds, so take your chances with dry ones (but very fresh).