Extremely adaptable shrub that will grow well in a wide range of soils in full sun to shade conditions. Good tolerance for drought, poor soils, urban pollution and shearing. Promptly remove root suckers to maintain appearance unless naturalizing.
Five-fingered (or fiveleaf) aralia is an upright, suckering, deciduous shrub growing 8-10' tall with arching stems and buckeye-like, palmate foliage. 'Variegatus' is more compact than the species, typically maturing to 6-8' tall, and features striking variegated foliage in which the palmate leaves (leaflets to 2" long) are bright green edged with white. Small greenish-white flowers appear in umbels in spring, but are inconspicuous. Flowers on female plants (species is dioecious) may give way to small black berries if properly pollinated, but most plants sold in cultivation are females so fruit is rarely seen. Sharp thorns appear at the stem nodes below each leaf. Although a member of the aralia family and commonly called five-fingered aralia, this shrub is not now nor was it ever part of the genus Aralia. Aralia racemosa is in the genus Aralia, but it is commonly called spikenard. Five-fingered aralia was formerly considered to be in the genus Acanthopanax, but is now included in the genus Eleutherococcus though many people still call it Acanthopanax out of habit... all of which illustrates some of the problems created by common name usage and taxonomic reclassification.
No serious insect or disease problems.
Excellent foliage for shade gardens, shrub borders, perennial border backgrounds or foundations. Hedge. Naturalize in woodland areas. Sharp thorns give shrub a hedge-row like quality which suggests possible uses as a screen.