Octopus-tree, or Queensland umbrella-tree, is native to Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia, but is widely planted in exteriors and interiors for its attractive foliage. It reaches a height of 45 feet, with several short trunks up to 8 inches in diameter. The leaves are up to 3 feet wide and have up to eighteen lustrous leaflets that radiate from a central point. Flowers are small but are grouped in large terminal inflorescences, composed of up to 20 axes resembling the arms of an octopus. Ripe fruits are blackish and about a quarter of an inch in diameter. It flowers from winter to summer and produces fruits from summer to winter. The generic name honors the German botanist Jacob Christoph Scheffler (1698-1742). The species name derives from two words meaning ray and leaf, in reference to the leaflets radiating from a central point.

The photographed tree is in the patio of the Piñero Building. There are other trees behind the Chemical Engineering Building, southwest of the Biology Building, and in front of the Buildings and Grounds Department’s greenhouse.


Schefflera actinophylla (Araliaceae)