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Aucuba Aucuba japonica

Other Common Name(s):

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

Aucuba japonica, family Garryaceae (formerly Cornaceae), commonly called spotted laurel, is a rounded, dense, upright somewhat rounded, shade-loving, evergreen shrub with fantastically variegated leaves.  It prefers soils that are high in organic matter and evenly moist in partial to full shade but will tolerate poor soils and urban conditions like air pollution.  It typically grows to 6-10' (infrequently to 15') tall, unless pruned shorter.  

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

It is very easy to transplant or propagate from seed or stem cuttings.  It is often grown as a houseplant in temperate climates requiring cool room temperatures of 50-65 degrees F.  

Flowers in early spring; foliage glossy; used as a potted plant in the North. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Indoor plants may suffer from spider mites.  Outdoor plants occasionally suffer from scale, nematodes, and mealybugs.  Fungal leaf spot, southern blight sometimes occur,  Heavy or overly moist soils cause root rot.  Foliage is susceptible to windburn or sun-scald so plant in a protected area.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves glossy, coriaceous, elliptic and OPPOSITE
  • Leaves entire or dentate on green stems
Profile Video:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#houseplant#variegated#drought tolerant#heavy shade#shade shrub#salt tolerant#interiorscape#variegated foliage#variegated leaves#hedge#interesting leaves#clay soil#air pollution tolerant#playground#year-round interest#showy fruits#cpp#buffer#children's garden#shade#winter intrest#leathery#rounded#speckled#screening#fantz
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#houseplant#variegated#drought tolerant#heavy shade#shade shrub#salt tolerant#interiorscape#variegated foliage#variegated leaves#hedge#interesting leaves#clay soil#air pollution tolerant#playground#year-round interest#showy fruits#cpp#buffer#children's garden#shade#winter intrest#leathery#rounded#speckled#screening#fantz
  • 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
    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:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • 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:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    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
    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