Weeds of Wednesday: Awful Octopus Tree

Octopus tree (Schleffera actinophylla) also goes by the common name Australian umbrella tree, which tells us the origin of this invasive plant. Both of these common names refer to its floral structure which resembles the tentacles of an octopus or spokes of an umbrella, as you can see in the photo above.

The pictured tree had been cut back nearly to the ground but was undeterred, sprouting new foliage and flowering. Each flower of the octopus-like or umbrella-like inflorescence will become a reddish purple 1/2″ fruit that is spread by wildlife.

Also called just plain schefflera, this tropical plant is not problematic in north Florida. It reaches the limits of its northern range in Brevard County.

But, this invader is abundant in Indian River County and is pictured below at the Osprey Acres Stormwater Park and Nature Preserve …

… and at the south Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA) …

This invader prefers full sun and can grow to be 45′ tall. Mature individuals in full sun flower and fruit in the summertime.

The palmately compound arrangement of its leaves is unmistakable (and umbrella-like), so please hand pull seedlings in natural areas whenever you can. The “seedling” pictured above at Osprey Acres Stormwater Park and Nature Preserve defied my attempts to uproot it.

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