Brake lights shine on white summer blooming tree

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Trees loaded with big white blooms are not common in late summer and early fall, so it's no surprise to see brake lights flash as cars pass these Japanese angelica trees (Aralia elata).  

Angelica tree: Summer bloom, hardy to Zone 4

Japanese angelica tree (Aralia elata) is hardy to zone 4. It grows best in sun but performs well in shade so long as the soil is loose and well drained. These trees have a tendency to sucker from the roots. They are relatively slow growing to 20 or 25 feet tall and wide.

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Variegated cultivars

There are several beautiful but hard to find variegated forms of angelica tree. 'Variegata' and 'Silver Umbrella' have white edges on each leaf. (The tree pictured above is Aralia elata 'Variegata'.) 'Aureovariegata' leaves have a creamy yellow margin. All are a bit smaller than the species, 15' rather than 20'+. These varieties are usually grafted, in which case the rootstock may be the less hardy (zone 5), thorny relative known as devil's walking stick (A. spinosa). So don't allow suckers to persist and do watch out for thorns as you grasp them to pull them out.


Below, right: Japanese angelica trees in bloom in August and sometimes into September.


Below: Sometimes aralia bloom finishes in August. Then the blue-black berry clusters and rust colored berry stalks are showy in fall.




Below: The angelica tree's flower cluster is big and so is its leaf -- a big, compound affair (the circled section of the young variegated aralia below is ONE leaf comprised of many leaflets). So the structure is quite open after the tree drops all the leaflets and the rachis that run between leaflets. We like it as a coarse sculpture in winter.AraliaSingleLfTSSm143.jpg

AraliaFlN4718s.jpg AraliaWinterELDPt2_230s.jpg