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.