With its exotic bamboo-like foliage, the Green Aralia is perfect for a themed garden, writes Elaine Yim

IF you want to recreate the beauty and serenity of the landscaped gardens that you see in resorts, you don’t have to travel far. You can landscape your home garden with the Green Aralia or Miagos Bush, a popular choice in many holiday resorts and luxury residences. It is native to our region and is, therefore, available at local nurseries. Outside Asia, the Green Aralia is considered a rare and exotic tropical bush. I call it jade eyelash plant because the leaves look like shiny green eyelashes.

The plant’s exotic-looking bamboo-like foliage is suitable for tropical themed gardens, Japanese zen gardens, oriental bamboo rock gardens and even water gardens.

The genus Osmoxylon is made up of about 60 species of flowering plants from the Araliaceae family, many of which are native to Southeast Asia. Araliaceae is a family of trees, shrubs, climbers, epiphytes and herbs found in many parts of the world. Some common examples of plants in this family are the English ivy (Hedera helix) and the ginseng herb (Panax spp).

Osmoxylon lineare has medium-green foliage. Osmoxylon lineare Yellow or Yellow Aralia has golden yellow foliage. There is also a variegated form.

THE PLANT

Osmoxylon lineare is a leafy, erect shrub that can grow between 90cm and 3m tall. It has an extensive root system that holds the plant firmly to the soil. The stems are light grey and flaky on top. The leaves are shiny green, smooth and hairless. They are spirally arranged around the stem, densely packed at the top. Each palmately-dissected leaf is divided into four to six linear segments or leaflets. These leaflets are long and slender, about 15-20cm long and 1-1.5cm wide.

The flowers are borne in clusters in terminal inflorescences called umbels. In an umbel, the individual flower stalks arise from a central point like the spokes of an umbrella. Some examples of such flowers are parsley, geranium, milkweed, onion and chives. In the case of Osmoxylon lienare, each umbel consists of a central cluster of sterile false fruit berries and lateral clusters of fertile, small white flowers. These little white flowers are about 1cm in diameter. The false fruits mature before the flowers start to open. The fruits change from white to dark purple or black as they mature. Birds that feed on the fruits help to pollinate the flowers.

versatile plant

THE Green Aralia can be grown in a container outdoors or as an indoor house plant. It can also be planted in the ground as a border or accent plant. It is suitable for rocky or poolside areas.

The steps:

Propagation. You can buy a healthy potted plant from the nursery. It can also be propagated by stem cuttings.

Sunlight. Grow in full to partial sun. Full sun for variegated form and partial for the green form.

Medium. Rich well drained moist soil. The plant is not drought or salt tolerant but it can tolerate waterlogged soil to some extent.

Water. Daily and up to twice a day during the dry season. Water well and deeply. Do not let the soil dry out.

Fertilise. Apply a balanced fertiliser once a fortnight.

Pruning. Tip pruning is recommended for young plants at the early growing stage. This is to encourage branching and bushiness. As the plant grows taller, trim to 1m in height to keep foliage neat and compact but dense.

Pest and diseases. May be attacked by grasshoppers and other leaf-chewing insects. If you don’t want to use toxic chemical pesticides, you can just catch these pests and dispose of them.

PLANT PROFILE:

Scientific name: Osmoxylon lineare

Synonym: Boerlagiodendron lineare

Common names: Green Aralia, Miagos Bush, Jade Osmoxylon, Eyelash Bush

Family: Araliaceae (Aralia family)

Origin: Philippines

Distribution: The Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore

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