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The Plant Guide

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Japanese laurel

Aucuba japonica

ah-KEW-bah jah-PON-ih-kah Audio

Aucuba are grown for their bold foliage, autumn fruit, and adaptability to shade, dry soil, pollution, and coastal conditions. A. japonica is a rounded, evergreen shrub with small, reddish purple flowers in spring, and red berries (on female plants) in fall. It grows to about 10 feet tall and wide. 'Crotonifolia' has leaves that look like they were speckled with yellow paint. 'Gold Dust' is female with heavy yellow speckling. 'Mr. Goldstrike' is male, more upright, and has gold-splashed leaves. Use as a hedge or specimen, in a container outdoors, or as an imposing houseplant.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsVery adaptable; glossy, bold foliage; red berries on female plants. Many named cultivars are female and thus bear autumn fruit.

CareThis plant is tolerant of full shade, dry soil, pollution, and salt winds. It's adaptable to almost any soil, except waterlogged soil. Use it in full sun to part-shade, or in full shade in hot summer areas. Protect from winter sun and wind at lower zones. Trim or cut back in spring.

PropagationRoot semi-ripe cuttings in summer. Sow seed in containers in a cold frame in autumn.

ProblemsWet root rot, Southern blight, fungal leaf spots.

  • Genus : Aucuba
  • Zones : 10, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Plant Height : 6 to 10 feet
  • Plant Width : 6 to 10 feet
  • Moisture : Adaptable
  • Uses : Containers
  • Bloom Time : Early Spring, Spring
  • Growth Rate : Fast
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Flower Color : Red
  • Characteristics : Showy Foliage, Showy Fruit
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest
View Comments


  1. user-7007728 07/25/2015

    How close together do I have to plant a male and female aucuba to get berries

    1. larryhattis 03/11/2016

      You might want to rephrase your question in regards to( a male and female aucuba to get berries ),yea I know dirty ole man.

  2. malkaessock 10/12/2016

    are the berries edible for birds?

  3. georgiagirl64 01/09/2017

    I live in East Georgia and have an aucuba that does not do well at all. I've moved it over the years from full sun to shade and back to partial sun. It never gets over 3 feet tall, and after a little spurt of growth in spring turns black. My soil is sandy, but it gets watered in a dry spell.

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