Schefflera actinophylla

Common Name: octopus tree 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Araliaceae
Native Range: Northeastern Australia, New Guinea
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 40.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: Rarely flowers indoors
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12. In St. Louis, it is easily grown is a houseplant in warm, humidified areas. Best grown in bright sunny locations with protection from hot afternoon sun. Tolerates some shade. Wide range of cultural tolerances. Prune to control size. Water regularly but moderately during the growing season, with reduced watering from fall to late winter. Plants may be taken to sheltered outdoor locations in summer.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Schefflera actinophylla, commonly known as umbrella tree, is native to rainforests in Australia and New Guinea where it grows as a tree to 50’ tall. It is widely grown in temperate climates as an ornamental houseplant. Indoors it is usually seen growing in the range of 6-15’ tall. It features palmately compound bright green leaves (7-16 leaflets). On each leaf, the elliptic to ovate leaflets (to 12” long) radiate outward in an umbrella-like fashion, hence the common name. Inflorescence consists of small red flowers in compact umbels that appear on long stalks (to 2’) radiating out like the tentacles of an octopus, hence the additional common name of octopus tree. Flowers may be followed by subglobose small black drupes. Flowers and fruits rarely appear on indoor plants, however. Synonymous with Brassaia actinophylla.

Genus name honors J.C. Scheffler, 19th-century botanist of Danzig (Gdansk, Poland).

Specific epithet refers to the radiating leaflets.


Soft rot, bacterial leaf spot. Watch for mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, thrips and scale.


Low-maintenance potted plant.