From Common Forest Trees of Hawaii

Octopus Tree
Heptapleurum actinophyllum
Ivy/Pennywort/Devil's Club family (Araliaceae)

Post-Cook introduction

This distinctive ornamental is easily recognized by the several trunks mostly unbranched, the few very large leaves with 7–12 slightly drooping in a circle at end of long leafstalk as in an umbrella, and the large showy clusters of many dark red or crimson flowers on 10–20 widely spreading dark purple axes suggesting arms of an octopus.

©2017 Mauricio Mercadante
This is a small, introduced tree 20–40 ft (6–12 ) high, with several trunks from base 4–12 inches (0.1–0.3 ) or more in diameter, unbranched or with few stout branches, and with flattened or rounded open hairless throughout. Bark light gray, smoothish or becoming slightly fissured. Twigs are few, very stout, 3⁄4–2 inches (2–5 ) in diameter, green, with light brown lines (lenticels).

Leaves (), about 2–3 ft (0.6–0.9 ) long. leaf-stalks very long, 1–2 ft (0.3–0.6 ), relatively slender, enlarged at both ends, round, light green. In angle above leafstalk, also forming a bud at the end of twig, is a light green or very narrow long-pointed 1 1⁄2–2 inches (4–5 ) long. are mostly 7–12 (5–18), spreading in a circle at the end of leafstalk on slender, spoke-like stalks of 2–4 1⁄2 inches (5–11 ). blades oblong or elliptical, mostly 6–12 inches (15–30 ) long and 3–5 inches (7.5–13 ) broad, rounded and abruptly short-pointed at rounded or short-pointed at base, slightly turned under at edges, slightly thickened and leathery. Upper surface shiny dark green with grooved light green and inconspicuous side veins, and lower surface dull light green with slightly raised veins.

Flower clusters () are large, composed of 10–20 widely spreading stout axes. Flowers are borne 10–12, crowded, stalkless, in rounded heads 3⁄4 inch (2 ) across on dark purple stalks of 3⁄8–1⁄2 inch (10–13 ) along the axis. Top half of the rounded dark red bud nearly 1⁄4 inch (6 ) in diameter is composed of 10–12 narrow pointed thick petals 3⁄16 inch (5 ) long, dark red on outer surface and whitish on inner surface, shedding early as half-round cap. Other flower parts are of the same number as petals, represented by narrow rim with minute teeth. 10–12, 3⁄16 inch (5 ) long, red, with stout filaments and large erect and slightly spreading 3⁄8–1⁄2 inch (10–13 ) across, soon shedding. half-round, turning from light to dark red, consists of inferior whitish within and slightly resinous and aromatic, with 10–12 narrow cells each containing one ovule, and the same number of dot stigmas in the ring.

In the head is composed of 10–12 berries, each bordered by four brownish black in the form of a cup, which is after shedding. round or top-shaped, blackish, 1⁄4 inch (6 ) in diameter, with ring of stigmas at ring slightly above middle, also vertical ridges corresponding to the 10–12 cells. Seed (nutlet), one in each cell, elliptical, flattened, brown, 1⁄8 inch (3 ) long. Flowering from April to October in Hawaii.

Wood is soft, not durable, not used.

Propagated from cuttings and seeds. The plants will grow in poor sand and can be pruned and topped. The seeds sometimes germinate on other trees and send roots down to the ground.

Common as an ornamental in lowlands of Hawaii and escaping from cultivation, becoming a real tree weed. Introduced about 1900.

In southern and central Florida, this popular small tree is recommended for tropical effect in confined areas of office buildings, parking lots, patios, and. homes. However, the berries stain sidewalks. This species withstands a few degrees of freezing temperature and flowers in about 10 years where located in the sun. Northward, it is grown indoors as a potted plant for the handsome foliage. Cultivated also in Puerto Rico.

Special areas
Waimea Arboretum, Foster, Tantalus, lolani

Height 50 ft (15.3 ), c.b.h. 17.3 ft (5.3 ), spread 58 ft (17.7 ). State Forestry Arboretum, Hilo, Hawaii (1968).

Native to Queensland, Australia. Introduced as an ornamental through the tropics and as a potted plant northward in temperate regions.

Other common names
umbrella-tree, brassaia, schefflera

Brassaia actinophylla Endl., Schefflera actinophylla (Endl.) Harms

stamen -- the pollen-producing reproductive organ of a flower; The stamen consists of an anther supported by a filament.

cm -- A centimeter which is about 0.4 inches.

m -- A meter is about 10% larger than a yard.

digitate -- Divided into finger-like lobes

scale -- A very small leaf around a dormant bud. Also other things that might remind one of fish scales on the surface of ferns, stems and the like.

midrib -- The central and most prominent vein of a leaf or leaf-like thing.

The apex is the tip or the furthest point from the attachment.

alternate -- leaves alternate along the main stem and are attached singly.

terminal -- Located at the end (the tip or the apex).

The anther is a pad at the end of the stamen that holds the pollen.

A panicle is a much-branched inflorescence. The bottom flowers in a panicle open first.

A pistil is the female structure of many flowers. It contains one or more carpels. Each carpel contins an ovary, style and stigma. The stigma receives the pollen which grows thru the style to reach the ovary.

An evergreen tree retains a large portion of its green leaves all year.

calyx -- the sepals of a flower, typically forming a whorl that encloses the petals and forms a protective layer around a flower in bud.

fruit -- any seed-bearing structure in flowering plants. It is formed from the ovary after flowering.

A leaf is compound when multiple leaflets are on the same stem.

canopy -- The foliage of a tree; the crown. Also the upper layer of a forest.

leaflets -- Each little leaf-like thing in a compound leaf is a leaflet.

synonym -- In botany a synonym is a species name that at one time was thought to be the correct name for a plant but was later found to be incorrect and has been replaced by a new name.

mm -- millimeter. About 1/25th of an inch.

persistent -- When the leaves of a plant fail to fall off in the fall they are persistent. Flowers that stay around after fruiting would be persistent.

The botanical term "berry" is different from common usage. Strawberries and raspberries are not berries. But a tomatoe is. A true berry is a fruit with the seeds immersed in the pulp.

palmate -- Consisting of leaflets or lobes radiating from the base of the leaf. Palmately veined, palmately lobed, palmately compound.

An ovary is a part of the female reproductive organ of the flower. Above the ovary is the style and the stigma, which is where the pollen lands and germinates to grow down through the style to the ovary.

stipule -- A leaf-like structure that occurs where the leaf joins the stem; stipules often occur in pairs.