Eleutherococcus (Syn. Acanthopanax) sessiliflorus Samen
Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus is also known as Acanthopanax sessiliflorus and Panax sessiliflorus. "Acanthopanax" was for a long time the official botanical name of the plant in China whereas the western world named the plant "Eleutherococcus". The species Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus belongs to the Araliaceae and is originally from Asia.
Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus grows as a small tree and reaches a height of about 5 m. The branches have sometimes prickles. The leaves are palmate. The single leaflets are longish ovate and the leaf margin is clearly serrate. The leaflets can get 13 cm long and 5 cm wide. The leaves fall down in autumn. The young leaves can be cooked and eaten as vegetables. The older ones are used dried to make tea.
The hermaphrodite, actinomorphic flowers are clustered in inflorescences and are dark violet in color. Due to the beautiful flowers Eleutherococcus is a favored ornamental plant in Europe. The main flowering time is between July and August. The fruits are also dark violet to black. They reach 1,5 cm in diameter. The Chinese produce wine from the bark of Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus. Beside that different compounds like saponines and cardiac glycosides can be gained from the bark. Due to that Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus is part of the traditionally Chinese medicine. They use the compounds against inflammations and also against edemas, lumbago and arthritis.
Growing Eleutherococcus from seed is quite complex. The seeds need a warm stratification of 6 months and after that a cold stratification in the fridge lasting about 3 months. After that the seeds can be planted into the substrate. To make this process easier one can sow them directly outdoor: During the warm season the seed will go through the warm stratification followed by the cold stratification during the winter and will be able to sprout the following spring. The adult plant prefers moist soil. In nature Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus grows next to rivers and mainly in a moist environment. Eleuterhococcus sessiliflorus is winter hardy. The plant can stand temperature down to minus 15 °C. In especially cold regions a protection in winter is necessary.
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