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Aucuba japonica - Thunb.

Common Name Spotted Laurel, Japanese laurel, Japanese Gold Dust Tree
Family Aucubaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woods in lowland and mountains all over Japan[58]. In rich forest soils of moist valleys, dense forests, thickets, by streams and near shaded moist rocks in China[266].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Aucuba japonica Spotted Laurel, Japanese laurel, Japanese Gold Dust Tree

(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Aucuba japonica Spotted Laurel, Japanese laurel, Japanese Gold Dust Tree
(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future


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Bloom Color: Red. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Rounded, Upright or erect

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Aucuba japonica is an evergreen Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 2.5 m (8ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7. It is in leaf all year, in flower from March to April, and the seeds ripen from October to February. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). . The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map



Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Ground Cover; Hedge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses:

Leaves - cooked. An emergency food[177]. It would have to be quite an emergency to convince me to eat them[K].


Medicinal Uses

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The leaves are pounded and applied to burns, swellings, chilblains etc[218].


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Other Uses

Hedge  Hedge

Makes a good hedge but its large leaves mean that it is quite labour intensive to maintain if a neatly clipped appearance is desired[29]. Unless you are happy with the large leaves being cut in half, it means that you have to trim the hedge with secateurs[29]. The plant will eventually make large weed-excluding shrubs and are suitable for covering large areas of ground, there are some dwarf forms that can be grown for ground cover[208]. 'Nana Rotundifolia' has been mentioned and will form a hummock of growth about 1 metre across[208].

Special Uses

Ground cover  Hedge  Hedge


Cultivation details

Landscape Uses: Border, Container, Foundation, Massing, Specimen, Woodland garden. A very tolerant and easily grown plant[1], it thrives in most soils and even in the total shade of trees[11, 182, 200] though for good fruit production a position with at least moderate sun should be chosen[11]. Tolerates dry soils and drought[184, 200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates salt winds[200]. Very tolerant of atmospheric pollution[11]. Plants are hardy to about -15°c[184, 200]. Often grown in the ornamental garden, there are many named varieties[182]. The foliage can be scorched in very long hot summers if the plant is in an open position[200]. Very tolerant of pruning, plants can be cut right back into the old wood if required[184, 200]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.


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Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[134]. Wash off the pulpy coating since this can inhibit germination. Stored seed should be soaked overnight and then stratified for 1 - 2 weeks at 3°c[134]. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months or more at 20°c[134]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Once they are 20cm or more tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, 15 - 20cm long outdoors at any time between September to February though October and November are best[78]. Very easy, even small branches will root[1]. Layering in autumn. Takes 12 months[78].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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