The schefflere are large shrubs or small trees of tropical origin, belonging to the araliacee family, widely used in Italy as houseplants, due to their very elegant foliage and easy adaptability even in places not entirely suitable for their development. They produce thin erect, branched stems, which bear large palmate leaves, consisting of oval leaflets, of different sizes depending on the species, typically leathery and shiny, quite thick; in botanical species the leaves are green, but there are many cultivars especially with variegated or streaked foliage, which are generally more widespread as houseplants than plain-colored leaf species. In nature, in summer, from the apex of the stems, thin stalks emerge, arranged in a sunburst pattern, which bear short petioles and small flowers, yellow or red, which develop into small berries of the same color. Unfortunately it is very unlikely that a Schefflera will bloom in the apartment, due to the low amount of light, the excessively dry climate and the temperatures, which simulate a year without seasons; therefore the flowers remain a difficult dream for the Italian grower. There are only two species of Schefflera, three if dyzigotheca elegantissima is included, which is often considered a Schefflera by many authors; the two existing species also have a controversial classification, and some botanists believe them to belong to different genera of araliacee.
Also known by the synonym Brassaia actinophylla, in nature it develops in some areas of Australia, where it reaches the size of a large tree; in pots it usually stays below two or three meters in height; the leaves are divided into thin, medium green, oval and slightly pointed leaves; the leaves have a matte texture, and tend to develop hanging, folded down. The tree produces large inflorescences, up to two meters long, with red flowers and berries of similar color, which contain the fertile seeds. In most of the mild climate areas of the world these schefflera are grown as garden plants, where they develop multiple trunks, and a very particular crown. In Italy they could find a place in the garden only in areas with warmer winters, on the coasts or on the larger islands.