Gold crest false aralia

  • Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum, some species) All parts Humans, cats, dogs
  • String-of-beads (Senecio rowleyanus)* All parts Humans, cats, dogs

    Tangerines and other citrus are somewhat toxic to dogs, more seriously so to cats. This includes not only fruit, but leaves, stems, flowers, etc. Source:

  • Tangerine (Citrus)* All parts, including fruit Cats, dogs
  • Taro (Calocasia) All parts Humans, cats, dogs
  • Thyme, Spanish (Plectranthus amboinicus) All parts Cats, dogs
  • Ti plant (Cordyline fruticosa, syn. C. terminalis) All parts Cats, dogs
  • Tulip (Tulipa)* Uncooked bulbs Humans, cats, dogs
  • Tylecodon (Tylecodon)* All parts Humans, cats, dogs
  • Umbrella plant (Cyperus alternifolius)* All parts Humans, cats, dogs
  • Umbrella tree (Schefflera)* All parts Humans, cats, dogs
  • Wandering jew (Tradescantia)* All parts Humans, cats, dogs
  • Yesterday, today and tomorrow (Brunfelsia) All parts Dogs
  • Yucca (Yucca)* All parts except flowers (safe for humans) Humans, cats, dogs
  • ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)* All parts Humans, cats, dogs
  • Safe Houseplants

    Many houseplants are safe for children and pets.

    The above list can appear pretty scary, but if you read the text from the beginning, you’ll understand that poisonings due to plants are very rare indeed. Even so, if you want to take no chances, here is a list of houseplants you can safely grow even when you have small children, cats and dogs: Nontoxic Houselants for Kids, Cats and Dogs.

    Toxic Houseplants / Some species pose dangers for kids, pets

    Although their numbers are far less, a few plants grown indoors can be deadly to pets. Ingesting kalanchoe and azalea can cause heart damage in dogs and cats, and eating lilies can cause kidney failure in cats.

    “I advise cat owners to not have lilies anywhere in the house, because cats like to nibble on just about anything,” says Richardson. “If the lily poisoning is discovered right away, the cat can usually be aggressively decontaminated and will be fine.

    “The trouble is, symptoms are gradual and we usually don’t get the call until three days later, at which point the cat is in kidney failure.”


    For humans, some symptoms of ingesting a toxic plant include nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, lethargy, a drop in heart rate and a decrease in blood pressure, usually occurring within 24 hours.

    If you suspect that a child has eaten a potentially poisonous plant, the best thing to do is call the poison control center immediately, says Galbo. “We’d rather you call and there isn’t a problem, than you assume it’s not a problem and wait until something does happen,” he says.

    “The longer you wait, the less latitude we have to treat the child, and a trip to the hospital is more likely.”

    Never use ipecac unless instructed to do so by the poison center, because ipecac itself is toxic and giving the wrong amount can do harm. Vomiting certain materials also can be worse than leaving them in the stomach.

    Also, children under 1 should never be given ipecac, because their gag reflex hasn’t developed and they can choke on their vomit.

    When you call the center, describe exactly what happened, including when the child ate the plant, how much and what plant parts. If you don’t know the name of the plant, send someone to a nursery with a plant sample for identification while you call.

    If the plant eaten is an oxalate, wipe out the mouth and give the child something cool to drink to alleviate the discomfort. Popsicles work well to reduce swelling and relieve irritation.

    In animals, ingestion of a harmful plant can result in lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. When you suspect that your pet has ingested a poisonous plant, time is of the essence. Either take the pet to the vet, or call the animal poison control center.

    Never induce vomiting in a pet unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian,

    says Richardson. “If the animal is an epileptic, or has ingested a certain type of plant, you could do a lot of harm by inducing vomiting,” she says.

    To protect animals and children from plant poisoning in the home, keep dangerous plants out of reach and make sure to remove fallen leaves quickly.


    — California Poison Control Center: (800) 876-4766. For more information on planting poisoning and a list of toxic and non-toxic plants, including some pictures, visit

    — For an animal emergency, call the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. (There is usually a charge for help with a poisoned animal.) For a list of plants toxic to pets, including some pictures, visit the center’s Web site:

    False Aralia Information – How To Grow A False Aralia Houseplant

    False aralia (Dizygotheca elegantissima), also known as spider aralia or threadleaf aralia, is grown for its attractive foliage. The long, narrow, dark green leaves with saw-tooth edges are coppery colored at first, but as they mature they turn dark green, appearing almost black on some plants. Bright light causes dark, blackish-green color on mature leaves. False aralia is usually purchased as a tabletop plant, but with proper care, it can grow 5 to 6 feet tall over a period of several years. Let’s find out more about the care of false aralia plants.

    False Aralia Information

    False aralia is native to New Caledonia. The lower foliage bears a strong resemblance to marijuana, but the plants are not related. Although you can grow them outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11, they are grown as houseplants in most parts of the country. You can also grow them in outdoor pots, but they are difficult to acclimate to indoor conditions after spending a summer outdoors.

    False Aralia Care Instructions

    Place the false aralia houseplant near a sunny window where it will receive bright to moderate light, but where the sun’s rays never fall directly on the plant. Direct sun can cause the leaf tips and edges to turn brown.

    You don’t have to adjust the thermostat when growing false aralia indoors because the plant is comfortable at ordinary room temperatures of between 65 and 85 F. (18-29 C.). Be careful not to allow the plant to become chilled, however. The foliage suffers damage when temperatures fall below 60 F. (15 C.).

    Care for false aralia plants includes regular watering and fertilizing. Water the plant when the soil is dry at a depth of 1 inch. Drench the pot with water and empty the saucer under the pot after the excess drains through.

    Fertilize every two weeks with liquid houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer and monthly in fall and winter.

    Repot false aralia annually in spring using general purpose potting soil and a pot just big enough to accommodate the roots. False aralia likes a tight pot. Since you will be growing a top-heavy plant in a relatively small container, choose a heavy pot or place a layer of gravel in the bottom to add weight and keep the plant from toppling.

    False Aralia Problems

    False aralia doesn’t like to be moved. A sudden change in location causes the leaves to drop off. Make environmental changes gradually, and try not to move the plant in winter.

    Spider mites and mealybugs are the only pests of concern. A severe spider mite infestation can kill the plant. Wipe the undersides of the leaves with a soft cloth dipped in insecticidal soap and mist the plant twice daily for a week. If the plant doesn’t show signs of recovery after a week, it is best to discard it.

    Handpick as many of the mealybugs from the plant as possible. Treat the areas near the base of the leaves with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol every five days, especially where you see the cottony masses of insects. Insecticidal soap is helpful when mealybugs are in the crawling stage, before they attach to the foliage and assume their cottony appearance.

    Gardening FAQ

    Schefflera elegantissima (syn. Aralia elegantissima, Dizygotheca elegantissima, Dizygotheca faguetii) or false aralia is a delicate, indoor, foliage plant that grows to 4 to 6 feet in height and prospers in strong, indirect sunlight.

    This plant is normally propagated from seed, by cuttings or by air layering.

    If your plant produces seed, for best results sow them is moist, sandy soil, uncovered by soil, in a warm environment (65 to 75° F), in summer. Sadly, they will not reliably produce strong, healthy plants.

    Softwood cuttings can be taken from the top 10 inches of the aralia in the summer, removing the majority of the leaves (but leaving a set or two) and stripping the outer layer of bark from the cut end. Paint the cut end and the wounds where leaves have been removed with rooting hormone and pot upright in sandy, moist soil. You can cut the remaining leaves in half to reduce transpiration. Cover the cutting with a plastic bag to retain humidity.

    Air layering is typically employed on thick-stemmed plants that have become leggy due to leaf loss and produces a new compact plant from a healthy shoot. In spring, cut the external layer from a 1/2 inch section of stem no more than 2 feet from the tip of the aralia and no more than 4 inches below a healthy leaf; then paint the cut with a commercial rooting hormone. Pack the cut with moist sphagnum moss and encase the wound and moss in clear plastic to retain the moisture, tied both above and below the cut. After a couple of months, roots will appear in the moss and the twig can be severed below the roots and, with plastic and moss removed, potted up.

    Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information

    How to Grow and Care for False Aralia Plants

    In the garden, Schefflera elegantissima should be grown in partial to full shade where they will be protected from the wind.They should be planted in slightly acidic, well drained but moisture retentive soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
    Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, but never soggy.
    Feed False Aralia plants monthly, using a balanced, all purpose fertilizer.

    Growing False Aralias as House Plants

    Indoors, False Aralia plants should be kept in an area with bright filtered light, but never in full sun.
    They should be grown in pots or planters with sufficient drainage holes, and be planted in a peat moss based, commercial potting mix.
    Water regularly while actively growing, keeping the soil slightly moist.
    Never allow the soil to remain soggy nor let it dry out completely. Never allow a False Aralia to sit in a saucer of water.
    False Aralias prefer a warm, fairly humid atmosphere, with daytime temperatures of 75°-85° and 70° nights.
    Temperatures below 60° will quickly cause the lower leaves to drop.
    Feed pot grown False Aralia plants every other month during the spring and summer,
    using a soluble fertilizer that has been formulated for house plants.
    Your plant will enjoy spending the summer months in a shaded area of your garden,
    but be sure to check for pests and problems before bringing them back indoors.
    During the dry winter months, you should mist the foliage daily
    or place the planter on a tray filled with moistened pebbles to increase humidity.

    Pests and Problems of False Aralia Plants

    The most common pests to infest False Aralias are Spider Mites, Aphids, Scale and Mealy Bugs.
    False Aralia plants will shed their lower leaves for a variety of reasons.
    Watering is critical. Too much or too little water will cause the leaves to shed.
    The leaves will also fall off if the temperature drops below 60° or changes rapidly.
    Lack of humidity in the winter is another cause of leaf drop.

    Propagating Schefflera elegantissima Plants

    False Aralia plants can be propagated with softwood stem cuttings taken during the summer. Older plants are a little harder to start and should be propagated by air layering in the spring.

    Schefflera seeds can be started indoors at any time,
    but for the best results sow fresh seeds in late summer.
    These seeds germinated faster with light, so do not cover them!
    Maintain a temperature in the growing medium of 70° until germination, which takes 20-30 days.

    False Aralia
    Schefflera elegantissima

    False Aralia

    Schefflera elegantissima
    (formerly Dizygotheca elegantissima)

    The exotic false aralia, with its lacy leaves and tropical beauty, is perfect for narrow, shady spots.

    Elegant as its botanical name implies, this plant goes through a transformation for a completely different look as it matures.

    The young leaves are very narrow and dark – almost bronze – with serrated edges.

    As the plant matures, it morphs into feathery layers of wider green leaves with softer jagged edges.

    Both leaf sizes and colors appear on the plant at the same time, giving it a lush texture.

    False aralia grows tall and upright and works very well in tight spaces.

    Use it as an architectural accent in front of columns or tucked into a recessed area.

    It can also provide semi-privacy in front of a window, and is a lovely alternative to other somewhat narrow plants like podocarpus.

    These tall shrubs are underused because not enough homeowners are familiar with them. Like a number of South Florida landscape plants, this is used as a pretty houseplant in less warm climates.

    (Leaves of a young plant on the left, mature ones on the right)

    The plant bears a striking resemblance to marijuana, and may get your neighbors talking.

    In an episode of the 70’s sitcom Three’s Company, Jack and Chrissy find this pot look-alike in the Roper’s garden but Janet later saves the day by identifying it as false aralia.

    Plant specs

    False aralia is evergreen, and a moderate grower you can keep 5 to 8 feet…or let it grow larger (15 feet or more) if you prefer.

    This plant prefers part shade, with a bit of morning sun, or dappled shade is ideal, though the plant will grow in full shade or even part sun.
    Tropical plants like this one need the warmth of Zone 10.

    In Zone 9B you can use it as a container plant, bringing it indoors during cold weather.

    Plant care

    Add a combination of top soil (or organic peat humus) and cow manure to the hole when you plant.

    You can grow this plant as a shrub or a multi-trunk tree. Larger stems will generally be a bit bare at the bottom anyway, so to make it more tree-like keep smaller shoots that normally fill in the blanks trimmed back to expose the “trunks.”

    No trimming is needed to grow as a tall shrub, and the plant has an attractive way of being full and lush and yet somewhat open at the same time.

    To keep it shorter and bushier give it a regular “haircut.” You can cut back too-tall stalks shorter in spring (late March or early April), leaving the smaller ones to fill in. New growth will emerge from the top of the cut stalk.

    Water on a regular basis but don’t keep it overly wet. The planting area should be well-drained.

    Fertilize in spring, summer, and autumn with a good quality granular fertilizer. You can also supplement feedings with liquid fertilizer.

    Plant spacing

    Plant 3 feet apart. Come out from the house 2-1/2 to 3 feet.

    If planting by a walk or drive, leave 4 feet of clearance.

    This is an excellent container plant and will grow indoors if given some humidity.

    Landscape uses for false aralia

    • tall accent for a mixed bed
    • single yard specimen
    • backdrop for smaller plants
    • semi-privacy plant
    • architectural accent
    • on each side of a garden gate
    • for height and interest on a blank wall
    • container plant for porch, deck, patio or poolcage

    COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Butterfly ginger, fishtail fern, cordyline, elephant ears, variegated peperomia, tibouchina, caladium, and amaryllis.

    Other plants you might like: False Ashoka Tree, Schefflera

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    3. False Aralia

    False Aralia

    Botanical Name: Dizygotheca elegantissima

    False Aralia has slender leaflets that grow in a circle at the tops of stems so that they look like fingers, giving this house plant another common name: Finger Aralia.

    New coppery brown foliage turns a dark, blackish-green as the plant matures. Its narrow, serrated leaflets give this small tree a lacy appearance, adding elegance to a collection of tropical house plants.

    Leaf drop. Dizygotheca likes to stay put. Moving it to a new location may cause its leaves to drop. Shedding leaves may also indicate that humidity is too low. Mist the plant every morning or stand the pot on a tray of wet pebbles. Misting also helps to prevent spider mites that may invade this plant.

    Pruning. False Aralia is slow-growing and doesn’t need pruned unless you want to control its height. Over time, it will drop its lower leaves, revealing a single tree-like trunk. If you want, you can keep it short and shrubby by cutting it back each year. Don’t be afraid to prune it to 6 inches (15 cm) from the soil level. Spring is the best time to cut it back. New offsets will grow from the base of the plant.

    Repotting. Repot in spring only when it has outgrown its pot, but use the smallest container that will hold its roots. It grows best when its roots are confined. Taller plants should be potted in a heavy container to prevent toppling.

    Dizygotheca elegantissima is sometimes sold as Finger Aralia or Spider Aralia. It’s well-worth seeking out. With good care, it’s a long-lived plant and a striking accent.

    Small plants look gorgeous in dish gardens, adding an upright palm-like form to the grouping. Put one with other tropical plants that like humidity, such as heartleaf philodendron or nerve plant. Seedlings will thrive in a terrarium under fluorescent light.

    False Aralia Care Tips

    Origin: South Pacific

    Height: This Pacific Island native can grow to 20 ft (6 m) in the wild, but indoors this tree will slowly reach about 6 ft (1.8 m).

    Light: Bright light, no direct sun. Too much sun exposure may cause leaf edges to turn brown.

    Water: Water thoroughly and allow top 1 in (2.5 cm) of soil to dry out between waterings. Wilted leaves are a sign of overwatering.

    Humidity: Moderate to high (around 50% relative humidity or above). Take a look at these easy ways to increase humidity for your tropical houseplants.

    Soil: All-purpose house plant potting mix

    Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) diluted by half. In fall and winter, feed monthly.

    Propagation: Seeds or stem tip cuttings. Take stem tip cuttings in spring. For best results, dip cut end in hormone rooting powder before inserting in moist potting mix. Cover with a plastic bag to raise the humidity around the cutting. Keep it warm and out of direct sunlight.

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    Dizygotheca elegantissima False Aralia1

    Edward F. Gilman2


    The lacy juvenile leaves of false aralia are made up of 7 to 10 slender, jagged leaflets arranged like fingers of a hand (Fig. 1). They are coppery in color when they unfold but then become a very dark grey-green. The mature foliage looks entirely different and is heavier with broader leaflets, giving a coarser silhouette. Both types of leaves can be present on the plant at the same time.

    Figure 1.

    False aralia.

    General Information

    Scientific name: Dizygotheca elegantissima Pronunciation: diz-zee-goe-THEEK-uh el-uh-gan-TISS-simuh Common name(s): false aralia Family: Araliaceae Plant type: shrub; tree USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2) Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round Origin: not native to North America Uses: container or above-ground planter; near a deck or patio; suitable for growing indoors; accent Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range Figure 2.

    Shaded area represents potential planting range.


    Height: 6 to 25 feet Spread: 3 to 15 feet Plant habit: upright Plant density: open Growth rate: moderate Texture: fine


    Leaf arrangement: spiral Leaf type: palmately compound Leaf margin: lobed; serrate Leaf shape: oblong Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see Leaf type and persistence: evergreen Leaf blade length: 8 to 12 inches Leaf color: purple or red Fall color: no fall color change Fall characteristic: not showy Figure 3.

    Foliage of false aralia.


    Flower color: white Flower characteristic: summer flowering


    Fruit shape: unknown Fruit length: less than .5 inch Fruit cover: fleshy Fruit color: brown Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

    Trunk and Branches

    Trunk/bark/branches: showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems Current year stem/twig color: green Current year stem/twig thickness: thick


    Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun; plant grows in the shade Soil tolerances: slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam Drought tolerance: high Soil salt tolerances: poor Plant spacing: not applicable


    Roots: usually not a problem Winter interest: no special winter interest Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding Invasive potential: not known to be invasive Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

    Use and Management

    False aralia provides a tropical look as a house plant indoors or in outdoor settings, whether in containers or at entranceways where its distinctive foliage casts interesting shadows on background walls. It can be pruned to develop into a small tree. Due to its upright, vertical habit, false aralia is best used as an accent or specimen plant.

    This somewhat branched, small evergreen tree will tolerate bright light, performing best in light shade. False aralia needs fertile, well-drained soil and protection from strong winds to develop into a nice specimen.

    Propagation is by air-layering, cuttings, or seed.

    Pests and Diseases

    Nematodes are a problem in the soil, while mites and scale can be serious leaf problems.

    No diseases are of major concern.


    This document is FPS180, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at

    Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

    The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
    U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

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