Family: Araliaceae

This genus includes about 20 species of hardy deciduous trees and shrubs, most originating from the Himalayas and central Asia. Their thick, prickly branches have carried them their name which comes from the Greek akanthos, a spine or thorn. Their small green flowers are quite unimpressive, but their long, handsome leaves, usually divided into leaflets, and clusters of black or purplish berries make them attractive outdoor plants.


The three species mentioned can be grown throughout a large part of the UK and Europe.

A. henryi, a shrub, grows to 3 m (10 ft). It has spiny shoots, long tapered leaves and green flowers that are densely packed.

A sieboldianus the most commonly grown, has attractive foliage, slender arching branches and greenish white flowers which appear in clusters on slender stalks, 5-10 cm (2-4 in) long. It grows to 3 m (10 ft).

A. simonii grows to 3 m (10 ft) and has yellow shoots, dark green leaves and clusters of green flowers.


This plant thrives in a well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position, with some shade from larger plants. The most effective propagation method is by seed, though germination may take up to two years. Sow seed in spring. Try suckers, root cuttings or ripened shoots in autumn.


Zone 6 and above.

Acalypha      Acanthus