Shade loving evergreen

Aucuba japonica

Aucuba japonica

This is one of my favorite shrubs in my garden.  I love the yellow speckles on the shiny green leaves.  It has been a valuable addition for over 6 years now.  One of my grandmother’s former neighbors gave me a softwood cutting which I rooted in water on my kitchen windowsill.  Then once there were several viable roots I planted it under the Pecan tree.  This family of plants is dioecious which means the individual plants are either female or male.  The males produce small purple flowers with yellow anthers and the female produces red berries.  Just recently I discovered mine is a female plant since I found several berries hidden under the leaves.  To get a good production of berries you must have both male and females shrubs, otherwise you will only get a few sporadic ones from year to year.   Here is some interesting facts about this evergreen:

  • Several variegated cultivars
  • Growth rate is slow
  • Hardy in zones 6-10 (with protection in 6)
  • 6-10′ in height & 4-6′ in width
  • Drought tolerant
  • young leaves will blacken in sunlight
  • easy to transplant
  • native to Japan
  • propogate from soft or hardwood cuttings
  • good houseplants in colder areas
  • Also called Japanese Laurel or Spotted Laurel

20 responses to this post.

  1. One of my favorites too. I hear it is easy to root cuttings. Good job on yours. Love the berries!

    Yep it was very easy Tina. This was my first experience with doing a root cutting from a shrub. I wish all things were this fast & simple. 🙂 Thanks!


  2. Posted by greenwalks on February 12, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Very cool that this is a family heirloom (not to mention free)! Holly is like that too, right? have to have male/female plants to get those amazing berries.

    Yep it is always getting some free for the garden. I’ve found my grandmother & her previous neighbors to be most generous when it comes to sharing plants with me. I think you’re right, Holly is the same way.


  3. Hi Racquel it looks very nice and pretty with those berries. Unfortunately and typically it is just a houseplant here./ Tyra

    Thanks Tyra. Yep it prefers a warmer zone. 🙂


  4. I do love the yellow freckles.

    Thanks Darla, me too! 🙂


  5. This is a great plant and is one of the few evergreens that will grow in the dry shade of mature oaks and maples.

    Which is another great attribute I should of mentioned Les! Thanks! 🙂


  6. Really pretty! I dnd not realize they could get that tall! Thanks for the information!
    Have a great day Racquel.

    Thanks Linda! Yep they can get that tall in years but mine is only about 4-4 1/2 ‘ tall at the moment. They can be pruned back to keep them within certain limits too. 🙂


  7. How perfect! This shrub has been on my radar for a few days! Very helpful information, thank you! The dry shade of the GOBN also thanks you! gail

    Glad I could give you some helpful information on this wonderful shrub today Gail! 🙂 Your GOBN will make a nice spot for these beautiful evergreens.


  8. I love the red berries, especially.

    Thanks Chandramouli, they do make a nice bonus!


  9. She’s a pretty one! The berries look good against the variegated foliage.

    Thanks Kerri, I really do love the striking combination of red & variegated green & gold.


  10. Can’t grow this here, but I agree that it’s very pretty and interesting!

    Unfortunately it is a warmer zone shrub but you could grow it as a houseplant Jodi. Thanks! 🙂


  11. Posted by skeeter on February 12, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I really like that bright green foliage! The red berry’s are an added bonus! 🙂

    That’s how I feel too Skeeter! 🙂


  12. I shouldn’t be surprised you produced this from a cutting. That green thumb of yours must be expanding up your hand by now! This is a favorite of mine as well. I’ve always heard this is a slow grower, how big is yours now?

    Thank you Susie, all this praise might go to my head, lol! 😉 It is a slow grower which is nice in my opinion. And you can keep it within limits with pruning. Mine is about 4 1/2 feet tall and 3 feet wide.


  13. You sure have good luck with rooting and planting Racquel. I think you truly must have a “green thumb!” This is a beautiful shrub, I can see why you wanted it.

    I was quite lucky with this one Kathleen, it was my first attempt at rooting of a shrub. Thanks for the compliments! 🙂


  14. I love that it is evergreen…anything that keeps its colour all year is my kind of plant. 🙂 It looks like it wintered well.

    Me too Nancy. It substained very little winter damage but those leaves will fall off & be replaced with fresh new foliage this spring.


  15. Hi Racquel, thanks for the info. I didn’t realize there were berries involved, and sex. 🙂 I scrolled down and was excited to see you praying mantis egg case too, I’m sure the comments told you what it was.

    You are quite welcome Frances. It was news to me too until I started doing some research on this wonderful evergreen. Yep everyone was quite helpful with the id of this egg case for me. Thanks!


  16. I am pretty sure my Grandparents had this at their home. I have never tried to grow one though. It is very pretty(-: I love the red berries(-:

    It is a very common foundation planting in my area Cindee. Most of my neighborhood has alot of mature trees so the front gardens are quite shady. Thanks!


  17. Very pretty Racquel! I can see why you love it. Too bad it’s not hardy here! (or maybe that’s a good thing, as my ‘list’ is far too long already!)

    Thanks Linda. You could always grow it as a houseplant or a tender perennial that you winter over indoors. 🙂


  18. One of my favorite shrubs! I had a beautiful grouping at a previous house. I used astilbe in front of the shrubs and hostas in front of the astilbes. A nice combo.


    Great combination there Cameron!


  19. Hello Raquel,
    I am putting together a plant library for our website & have no good aucuba picture–and ours don’t have berries right now–can we use your nice one if we give you credit? if so how should I list it?
    let me know,


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