Description from Flora of China
Dimorphanthus Miquel (1840-1841), not Dimorphanthes Cassini (1818).
Trees, small, or shrubs, prickly, or unarmed, rhizomatous herbs, andromonoecious or hermaphroditic. Leaves 1-3-pinnately compound, rachis articulate; leaflets 3-20, entire to serrate, serrulate, crenate, or undulate; stipules connate with petioles at base. Inflorescence terminal or axillary, paniculate, corymbose or umbellate, usually consisting of umbels, capitula, or racemes, occasionally umbels solitary. Pedicels articulate below ovary. Calyx rim 5-dentate. Petals 5, imbricate. Stamens 5. Ovary 5(or 6)-carpellate, occasionally aborted to 3; styles 5, distinct or connate at base. Fruit a berry, ± globose, sometimes 3-5-angular. Seeds laterally compressed; endosperm uniform.
The first author circumscribes Aralia to exclude the species treated here in Pentapanax. Wen, however, has provided evidence showing that this group is clearly nested within Aralia and must be included therein in order to avoid rendering Aralia paraphyletic. Wen’s interpretation is favored by the second author. For further details and references see the discussion under Pentapanax.
A thorough revision of Aralia sect. Dimorphanthus was recently published by Wen (Cathaya 15-16: 1-187. 2004), treating material assigned to the first 19 species presented below. Wen adopted circumscriptions of several species that differ significantly from those used by the first author in the present treatment (most notably A. armata, A. dasyphylla, and A. elata).
Several species are used medicinally and as a vegetable (young stems and leaves).
About 40 species: mainly in SE Asia and China, a few in the Americas; 29 species (17 endemic) in China.