Plant DetailShow Menu

Aucuba japonica

Phonetic Spelling
aw-KYOO-bah jah-PON-ih-kah
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Spotted laurel, in the Garryaceae (silk tassel) family, is a woody, broadleaf, evergreen shrub with variegated leaves. It is native to East Asia and Japan, but has become well adapted to the North Carolina environment. 

It can be found in moist woodland areas, thickets, valleys, and along streams. Partial shade to deep shade is the best growing environment. Young leaves exposed to the sun will blacken. Soil conditions should be loamy clay, sand, or high organic matter. The soil needs to have good drainage, moist to occasionally dry or wet conditions. The plant will tolerate poor soils and urban conditions like air pollution. The foliage is susceptible to windburn so plant in a protected area. Spotted laurel typically grows 6 to 10 feet (infrequently to 15 feet) tall, unless pruned shorter. Plant 3 to 6 feet apart. It is propagated by seed or stem cutting. 

Plants in this genus are dioecious meaning they have male and female flowers on separate plants. If planted near each other, the female plants will produce showy red fruits in the winter providing year-round interest. 

Spotted laurel can be grown in containers around the patio or in recreational play areas.  It does well in children's gardens, shade, and winter gardens. It can be used as a hedge or privacy screening. In temperate climates it is grown as a houseplant and requires cool room temperatures of 50 to 65 degrees F.  

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves are glossy, coriaceous, elliptic, and opposite
  • Leaves are entire or dentate on green stems
  • Long lasting red/burgundy fruit color is present from fall to spring 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Indoor plants may suffer from spider mites. Outdoor plants occasionally suffer from scale, root rot, nematodes, and mealybugs. Fungal leaf spot, southern blight sometimes occurs. 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Juniper Level Botanic Gardens Shade Garden Birdbath Nook Rock & Water Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Nana', 'Pacman', 'Picturata', 'Rozzanie', 'Serratifolia', 'Sulphurea Marginata', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#houseplant#drought tolerant#shade shrub#salt tolerant#interiorscape#variegated leaves#winter interest#interesting leaves#air pollution tolerant#playground#year-round interest#showy fruits#hedges#cpp#buffer#children's garden#leathery#rounded#speckled#screening#fantz#clay soils tolerant#partial shade tolerant#heavy shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Nana', 'Pacman', 'Picturata', 'Rozzanie', 'Serratifolia', 'Sulphurea Marginata', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#houseplant#drought tolerant#shade shrub#salt tolerant#interiorscape#variegated leaves#winter interest#interesting leaves#air pollution tolerant#playground#year-round interest#showy fruits#hedges#cpp#buffer#children's garden#leathery#rounded#speckled#screening#fantz#clay soils tolerant#partial shade tolerant#heavy shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Aucuba
    Species:
    japonica
    Family:
    Garryaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    East Asia and Japan
    Distribution:
    Native to moist woodland areas, thickets, valleys and along streams. Austria, China South-Central, China Southeast, North Carolina, Spain, Washington
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Screening
    Wind Break
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Red, ellipsoid, one-seeded, berry-like drupes (to 1/2”) which ripen in fall, and provide interest through spring.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Panicle
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Purple-maroon 4-petals 4-sepals cross-shaped with white anthers bloom in early spring. Not particularly showy and tiny. Dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants) with the male flowers in terminal cymes or panicles 4 1/2” long. Female flowers are shorter and appear in leaf axils.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Variegated
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Medium to dark green leaves elliptic to ovate (8” long) with marginal teeth on the upper half of each leaf, young leaves exposed to the sun will blacken. Opposite, simple, coriaceous, elliptic-ovate to elliptic-lanceolate, entire to dentate along margins.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Fleshy stem that makes propagation easy.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Patio
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heavy Shade
    Pollution
    Salt
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Nausea, vomiting, possible fever
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Aucubin, a glycoside
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Leaves