Aralia japonica, Aralia sieboldii de Vriese and Aralia sieboldii K. Koch.



Common name/s ?

Japanese aralia, glossy-leaved paper plant, castor oil plant, fatsi, fig-leaf palm, yatsude and paper plant.

Skill rating



Eastern Asia.

Type of plant ?

Evergreen, perennial shrub.

Hardiness zone ?

RHS zone


EGF zone


USDA zone


Eventual size

To 4m height and spread.

Growth rate ?

Moderate, reaches its full size in 10 to 20 years.

Shape it grows into

Dense, rounded shrub.

Season/s of interest

Year round foliage interest, flowers and then fruits in autumn.

Where to grow it

Happy in any sun/shade conditions.
Prefers well drained to moist soil.

Prefers a fertile (nutrient-rich) soil of any type or pH, so long as it is well draining. Likes a relatively sheltered spot so the leaves do not become tattered. It tolerates coastal or polluted conditions.

Fatsia japonica


Large, palmate, shiny leaves extend on stout branches from this tropical looking, evergreen shrub. In autumn small white flowers appear in rounded clusters, followed by black berry fruits.

What to use it for

An architectural plant which would make a good focal point, an evergreen backdrop for tropical style planting or an attractive wall shrub. Can be grown in a container and is excellent in conservatories. Could also be grouped together to create an informal hedge. It doesn’t require much looking after so is good for a low maintenance garden.

How to look after it

Little or no maintenance is required, except for the pruning outlined below.

How to prune it

Fatsia japonica should be pruned in mid-spring. Minimal pruning is needed, just to remove any faded or damaged parts, or to restrict the spread of the plant. When pruning, the full branch should be removed back to the main stem, rather than shortening it, to keep the graceful habit of the plant. Fresh growth will come up from the base.

To train it as a wall shrub, cut any any growth which is sticking out away from the wall too much, back to a main stem.

If you wish to renovate the shrub, cut out any old stems completely, only keeping a balanced framework of young growth.

How to propagate it

Take semi-ripe cuttings at any time, selecting stem tips and cutting below a node, retaining 3 to 5 nodes on the cutting. Remove all leaves except for the topmost two and insert it into cutting compost so only the bottom two nodes are buried. Apply bottom heat of 15-20°C to speed up rooting.

Seeds can be collected and sown in late autumn, or kept for sowing in the spring. Cover the seeds with vermiculite and keep at 15-20°C, germination should take 10-20 days. Grow on under cover and plant out after two years. Cultivars of Fatsia japonica cannot be raised from seed.

Common problems

Leaf spots, scale insects, thrips and mealy bugs can affect Fatsia japonica.

Other useful information

The Japanese name for Fatsia japonica is ‘yatsude’ (or variations upon this), deriving from ‘yatsu te’, meaning ‘eight hands’ or ‘eight fingers’. This relates to the shape of the leaves and the idea of them having 8 lobes (although generally the leaves have an odd number of lobes). It is thought that the genus name Fatsia also derives from this Japanese name, possibly from an older Japanese dialect or a misinterpretation of the name by Western explorers. An alternative Japanese name for this plant is ‘tengu no uchiwa’, which means ‘tengu’s fan’. A tengu is a long-nosed mountain goblin who was said to carry a fan made from a fatsia leaf.

This plant has been given the Award of Garden Merit by the RHS.