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Schefflera delavayi

Schefflera delavayi

Delavay's schefflera or sui xu e zhang chai is native to southern China and northern Vietnam. Most people in the temperate world have encountered the genus Schefflera as a houseplant, e.g., umbrella tree, dwarf schefflera and false aralia. The widespread cultivation of these subtropical and tropical members of the genus as indoor plants is now slowly being supplemented by the introduction of a few hardier, temperate species (such as Schefflera delavayi) for use as outdoor plants in mild climates. The plant in today's photograph weathered last year's locally cold temperatures with no ill-effect. It is currently in bloom in the David C. Lam Asian Garden (this photograph is from mid-October of last year).

There seems to be some confusion about the identity of Schefflera delavayi on the web. The plant in this photograph does seem to conform to the Flora of China description of Schefflera delavayi. A search on the web, though, will reveal a few nursery sites showing a seemingly different species with oak-like leaves. I'm not certain of the origin of this confusion.

In the wild, Schefflera delavayi will grow to 8m (26 ft.). Our specimen at UBC Botanical Garden is still under 2m.


Thanks for an excellent photograph -- great contrast and detail. I hesitate to ask, but not being a botanist, can you tell me if what appear to me to be juvenile [or undeveloped] flowers in the photograph are such?

Also, a special 'Thanks' to Beverley for often giving us the phonetic pronunciation of the names along with her enlightening hardiness information. Much appreciated.

I have one as a house plant , in my study , next to me as i write !

lovely picture is this plant the one
that grows on limestone in china

may i ask what the plant all rosey pink
in the background might be

little folk would use this for swings perhaps

Yes, these are undeveloped flowers, Knox.

Elizabeth, the rosey pink plant in the background is a fading Hydrangea. Sorry, I don't recall which one.

The "oak-leaf" plants appear to represent 2 spp; the Tops Tropicals plant is tropical, introduced from the Philippines and tissue cultured as S. 'Nova' in Florida. The other plant appears to have lepidote foliage? Never seen it here. The Schefflera 'Nova' can be viewed at Leu Gardens and Selby Bot. Gardens in Cent. Fl.

Schefflera delavayi - Z9 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
Schefflera shef-le-ra After J.C. Sheffler
Dictionary of Plant Names, Coombes

Speaking of juvenility, might the plants with oaklike leaves be bearing juvenile foliage, that is replaced with foliage like that shown here later in their development?

Ron, I suspect not - this plant is only a few years old, and its leaf appearance seems to match the description in the Flora of China (where, presumably, they would have described the adult leaves).

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