Arboretum & Botanical Garden Bulletin Board
Plant of the Month
Variegated Tall Aralia
Aralia elata 'Variegata'
Location Grid T6 in the middle between the gravel roads, north of the Russian Olives
This tree is also known as Japanese Angelica or Devil’s Walking Stick. I think it holds the honor of being the most expensive plant for the size purchased of any plant in the Arboretum. It was purchased as a 3 gallon plant in 1998 for $140. They are rare and expensive because the only way to propagate them is by grafting and their huge buds and pithy wood make grafting extremely challenging.
Tall Aralia grows into a large shrub/small tree with huge compound (bipinnately compound for plant geeks) leaves, giving it a very lush, tropical appearance. It flowers in late summer with clusters of pink buds opening to white flowers that eventually form black berries.
We also have the straight species of Aralia elata growing in the Arboretum. It is one of quite a few plants in the Asian collection that were grown from seeds collected in the wild in National Parks in China. The species tree is growing on the side of the east side gravel road a little further south than the variegated plant. Surprisingly, the species sends up lots of suckers, but the grafted variegated form does not.
September is often the most pleasant weather month in Moscow, and so far that had been true, moderate temperatures, some timely rains and hardly any smoke this year.
We have taken advantage of that nice weather to do quite a bit of new planting in the Arboretum. So far this fall we have planted 157 new plants, mostly herbaceous perennials but also several new woody trees and shrubs, including two new lilacs, a snowball and a Rose of Sharon. That also includes 34 additional plants in the new Palouse Prairie pollinator strip north of the barn. Those include some Prairie Smoke, Taper Leaf Penstemon and Jessica’s and Western Asters.
A fun project was planting 3 new Camperdown Elms down at the south end of the Arboretum. I want to demonstrate how they will grow if they are not grafted up on a trunk or trained to a single stem. Two of the trees were dug up as root suckers, one from the Arboretum and one from the old trees on Campus Drive. The other was a tree we had purchased for another project that had died back severely over the winter, but has a strong surviving limb. Then we added an interesting piece of wood. It is part of one of the original Camperdown Elms planted along Campus Drive which was destroyed by a construction accident. It has been accumulating dust in the Arboretum barn for 20 years and I thought it should be shared.
The annual bed by the barn continues to feed an amazing array of pollinators. 9-8-23 Lucy Falcy photo.