Queensland Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla)
The Umbrella or Octopus Tree, (Schefflera actinophylla syn. Brassaia actinophylla) is native to Australia where it often grows as a many-trunked evergreen tree or as an epiphyte on other trees. In Bermuda it is planted as a fast growing ornamental garden plant, but it has become invasive in many habitats.
It has large compound leaves with 7 to 16 oval leaflets on long stems. Umbrella trees flower in the summer when they produce ‘umbrella-like’ groups of 2 foot (60cm) long spikes containing hundreds of red flowers. The pollinated flowers become oval red fruits which are eaten by birds that deposit the seeds around the island.
Young umbrella trees will grow wherever the seed lands – from cracks in a wall or roof, out of crevices on other trees, and in woodland, marshes and gardens. This plant is known as an invasive weed in Florida and Hawaii, yet it is still regularly planted in Bermuda gardens. This plant should never be propagated and should be removed whenever possible.
Further Reading: An Illustrated Guide for Bermuda’s Indigenous and Invasive Plants [PDF 42MB].