11 Aucuba japonicaCommon Names: Japanese aucuba, Japanese laurel, gold-dust tree Family: Cornaceae (dogwood Family)
Japanese aucuba, or just aucuba, is an evergreen shrub that grows slowly to about 8-10 ft (2-3 m) tall, and thrives in low light areas. The shrub may have multiple stalks which support large - up to 8 in (20 cm) - shiny, leathery leaves. Aucubas are dioecious: the small purple flowers of male plants have yellow anthers, and those of the female plants produce bright red berries. Several cultivars have leaves that are variegated with yellow and these are especially attractive, many resembling a variegated croton (Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum).
Aucuba japonica is, wonder of wonders, native to Japan! It has become a popular landscape shrub in mild temperate areas in the U.S. and Europe.
CultureLight: Aucuba thrives in light to deep shade. Moisture: Once established, aucuba tolerates drought, but it always looks better when it gets regular watering. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 - 10. Propagation: Propagate aucuba from fast growing stem cuttings in spring or semiripe cuttings in summer. Seeds should be sown outdoors in fall.
Aucuba is easy to grow. Plant it in shady, low light areas. It's also good in pots. Aucuba tolerates shade, air pollution, dry soils, salt spray and occasional derision. Use aucuba in entry areas, in foundation plantings, and under big trees. They are well suited as house plants.
The shiny, bright green foliage, variegated with bright yellow, seems to light up shady corners of the yard. The brilliant red berries on female plants are also attractive. Use a variegated aucuba where a croton (Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum) is not hardy.
Steve Christman 5/20/97; updated 5/1/06