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Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus

Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus grows at Mustila at the Festival Area, near its relative Siberian ginseng (E. senticosus). Both have 3-5-fingered leaves and black berries, which persist at the stem tips long after the leaves have fallen. The berries of Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus form a tight ball, as suggested by the Latin epithet: sessilis means “with no stalk” and florus means “flower”. In contrast, Siberian ginseng berries have stalks about 2 cm long, and their berries are therefore less tightly bunched. Another characteristic which helps to distinguish these species is described by the Siberian’s specific epithet senticosus, i.e. thorny.

E. sessiliflorus grows to about 2 metres, forming a rather sparse shrub. In late summer, the small green flowers, borne in umbels, can pass unnoticed, in contrast to the balls of berries, which continue to decorate the plant under a white cap of winter snow, unless they have been eaten by birds.

E. sessiliflorus belongs to the exotic-looking Aralia family, whose species sometimes make the newspapers for their miraculous effects. The strongest of them is Ginseng (Panax ginseng), but also the Eleutherococcus species have medicinal properties. The effective ingredient is found in the roots’ surface layers.


Eleutherococcus senticosus - ‍Siberian ginseng



Siberian ginseng is the northernmost species of the Aralia (Angelica) genus. It grows naturally over a broad range from Russian Amur to Korea and Japan, where it can reach 5 metres, though in Finland it is limited to about 2 metres. At Mustila, it brings a touch of the exotic to the Juhlapaikka (Festival area). The thriving bushes are slowly spreading via suckers. The large dark balls of berries are spectacular in autumn against the background yellow of the lobed foliage.

Siberian ginseng is rarely grown in Finland outside botanic collections. Requiring very little attention, it could be used more widely both as an individual shrub in gardens and in landscaping, e.g. along roads, as it tolerates air pollution rather well.

Its medical use is also important, particularly in China and Russia, where it is used in the same way as Ginseng root. Medications are usually prepared from the roots, promoting improvements in immunity and general health, it is claimed.


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