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Dizygotheca elegantissima False Aralia

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


The lacy juvenile leaves of false aralia are made up of 7 to 10 slender, jagged leaflets arranged like fingers of a hand. 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.

Full Form - Dizygotheca elegantissima: False Aralia
Figure 1. Full Form - Dizygotheca elegantissima: False Aralia
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


Leaf - Dizygotheca elegantissima: False Aralia
Figure 2. Leaf - Dizygotheca elegantissima: False Aralia
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


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 (Figure 3)

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round

Origin: not native to North America

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

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

Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 3. 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


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.

Publication #FPS180

Release Date:October 18, 2023

Related Collections

Part of Shrubs Fact Sheets

Related Topics

  • Critical Issue: 1. Agricultural and Horticultural Enterprises
Organism ID

About this Publication

This document is FPS180, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised October 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Gail Hansen, professor, sustainable landscape design; Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman