|c. 600 species|
Schefflera // is a genus of flowering plants in the family Araliaceae. The plants are trees, shrubs or lianas, growing 1–3 metres (3 ft 3 in–9 ft 10 in) tall, with woody stems and palmately compound leaves. The circumscription of the genus has varied greatly. Phylogenetic studies have shown that the widely used broad circumscription as a pantropical genus of over 700 species is polyphyletic, but it remains to be seen how this will affect the classification of the genus.
Several species are grown in pots as houseplants, most commonly Schefflera actinophylla (umbrella tree) and Schefflera arboricola (dwarf umbrella tree). Numerous cultivars have been selected for various characters, most popularly for variegated or purple foliage. Schefflera species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidopteran species including Batrachedra arenosella (recorded on S. stellata). Schefflera arboricola and Schefflera actinophylla can be used to attract birds.
The genus is named in honor of Johann Peter Ernst von Scheffler (born in 1739), physician and botanist of Gdańsk, and later of Warsaw, who contributed plants to Gottfried Reyger for Reygers book, 'Tentamen Florae Gedanensis'.
The genus has had a turbulent taxonomic history; the list of synonyms includes:
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