Aucuba japonica  Aucuba japonica

Japanese Laurel, Japanese Aucuba, Gold Dust

Tree, Spotted Laurel

Nomenclature: Royal Hort. Society

Type Shrub, woody plant

Hardy range 7B to 10A

Height 4' to 6' / 1.20m to 1.80m

Spread 36" to 6' / 90cm to 1.80m

Growth rate Slow

Form Oval, rounded and upright or erect

Exposure Full shade to partial sun  Persistence Evergreen

Bloom Color Red Bloom Time Spring Leaf Color Green and variegated Fall Color No change in fall color This plant has attractive foliage. Fruit Color Red The fruit is fleshy and oval.


This plant tolerates some drought and a little salt. This plant will grow in dry soil. Suitable soil is well-drained/loamy, sandy or clay. The pH preference is an acidic to slightly alkaline (less than 6.8 to 7.7) soil.

Landscape Uses

Container plantings- Woodland garden- Border- Foundation planting- Massing- Specimen

Attributes and Features

- Inconspicuous blooms- Persistent fruit- Attractive fruit

Native Habitat

Himalayas to Japan.

Crown, Branch and Twig

This plant is asymmetrical with a coarse texture and has a moderately dense crown.This plant's bark is not showy.Branches or twigs are stout.This plant is often grown with multiple trunks.This plant has low flammability.

Culture Notes

Aucuba prefers a rich, sandy loam with some organic matter but they will adapt successfully to a heavier soil as long as drainage isgood. They are best when used in mass, planted close together because they grow so slowly. Plant 2 to 3 feet apart for the bestlandscape effect. Pruning is seldom necessary because of the slow growth rate. The irregular, multi-stemmed habit of growth makes

Aucuba a natural for informal plantings, while the dense, compact form makes it useful as a free-standing specimen in small areas.Only female plants bear red berries in fall and winter, provided there is a male plant close by. Males produce plenty of allergenicpollen; females (that is plants with fruit) produce no pollen. Aucuba makes a nice house plant, and it performs well in a container in theshade.

This shrub transplants easily from any soil. Water faithfully for a few months. This is a great shrub for planting under pines or other talltrees and does well along the foundation on the north side of a building. Full sun in the US often means blackened foliage; in thePacific Northwest and in England full sun appears to be fine. This plant is considered mostly allergy free and causes little or no allergyproblems in most people.

Cultivars include: var. borealis - compact, small leaves ranging in size from 2 to 15 feet tall and wide; 'Copdock' - shiny foliage toothednice selection; 'Dentata' - serrated toward the tip; 'Fructu Albo' - some yellow spotting on foliage and yellow fruits; 'Gold Dust' - spottedfoliage; 'Gold Splash' - foliage edged in yellow; 'Gold Spot' - golden yellow spots on foliage; 'Golden Heart' - spotted golden foliage,

especially toward the center of the leaves; 'Golden King' - a male plant with spotted foliage; 'Goldieana' - golden yellow in center ofleaves near the midrib; 'Grandis' - a male selection with green foliage; 'Hillieri' - a female growing to about 5 to 8 feet tall, very strikingfruit; var. himalaica - narrow dark green foliage and orange fruit; Lance Leaf' - long, dark green foliage male; forma leucocarpa - fruitand flowers are white; 'Limbata' - foliage with yellowish margins; 'Longifolia' - narrow foliage forms; 'Marmorita' - dense canopy withspotted foliage; 'Nana' - compact canopy with showy fruit ; 'Nana Rotundifolia' - compact habit with only a few golden spots;

'Picturata' - yellow blotches scattered on foliage with a yellow center (may revert to green); 'Pink Champagne' - foliage deeply serrateand dark green, pink fruit; 'Rozannie' - compact habit with adundant fruit and dark green foliage; 'Salicifolia' - green foliaged female;'Speckles' - variegated foliage; 'Serratifolia' - deeply cut teeth along the margins; 'Sulphurea Marginata' - yellow edges on foliage,green along midrib, female; 'Variegata' - commonly grown in the US with golden flecks; 'Wisley Nana' - compact canopy with plenty offruit.

Planting and establishing shrubs

The most common cause of young plant failure is planting too deep. Plant the root ball no deeper than it was in the nursery. In mostinstances, the root flare zone (point where the top-most root in the root ball originates from the trunk) should be located just above thelandscape soil surface. Sometimes plants come from the nursery with soil over the root flare. If there is soil over this area, scrape itoff. The planting hole should be at least twice the width of the root ball, preferably wider. In all but exceptional circumstances wherethe soil is very poor, there is no need to incorporate anything into the backfill soil except the loosened soil that came out of the plantinghole. Never place ANY soil over the root ball. If a row or grouping of plants is to be installed, excavating or loosening the soil in theentire bed and incorporating organic matter enhances root growth and establishment rate.

Weed suppression during establishment is essential. Apply a 3-inch thick layer of mulch around the plant to help control weed growth.Keep it at least 10 inches from the trunk. If you apply it over the root ball, apply only a one or two inch layer. This allows rainwaterand air to easily enter the root ball and keeps the trunk dry. Placing mulch against the trunk or applying too thick a layer above the rootball can kill the plant by oxygen starvation, death of bark, stem and root diseases, prevention of hardening off for winter, vole and otherrodent damage to the trunk, keeping soil too wet, or repelling water. Regular irrigation through the first growing season after plantingencourages rapid root growth, which is essential for quick plant establishment.

Pests, Diseases and Damaging Agents

Pests: Soil nematodes, aphids and scales can be a problem, with the resultant sooty mold blackening the leaves.

Diseases: There is evidence of a branch canker that kills stems. Sclerotium raulsonii may cause stem dieback occasionally. Leaf spots, root rot and gray molds can also cause some problems.