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Aucuba japonica var. variegata

Aucuba japonica var. variegata , Photo: Michael Lahanas

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Lamiids
Ordo: Garryales

Familia: Garryaceae
Genus: Aucuba
Species: Aucuba japonica
Varietates: A. j. var. borealis – A. j. var. japonica – A. j. var. ovoidea

Aucuba japonica Thunb., 1783

Aucuba vivicans W.Bull, Gard. Chron., n.s., 3: 619 (1875).

Native distribution areas:

Aucuba japonica Longifolia

Aucuba japonica Longifolia , Photo: Michael Lahanas

Primary references

Thunberg, C.P. (ed.) 1781. Nova Genera Plantarum, quorum partem primam, suffrag. exper. Facult. med. upsal. publice ventilandam exhibent praeses Carol. P. Thunberg, ... et respondens Claudius Fr. Hornstedt, O-Gothus. In Audit. Gust. d. xxiv. nov. anno mdcclxxxi. Horis solitis. Upsaliae. 28 p. Upsaliae: Joh, Edman. MDZ DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.88 (as Acta medicorum suecicorum 1: 207–234, tab. xvi. 1783.) Reference page. : 3:61.

Additional references

Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2016). Flora of North America North of Mexico 12: 1-603. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
Govaerts, R.H.A. 1995. World Checklist of Seed Plants 1(1, 2). 483, 529 pp. MIM, Deurne. ISBN 90-341-0852-X (issue 1) ISBN 90-341-0853-8 (issue 2). Reference page.
Govaerts, R.H.A. 2003. World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. [unavailable for the public] Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Aucuba japonica in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jul 10. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Aucuba japonica in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jul 10. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Aucuba japonica. Published online. Accessed: Jul 10 2021. 2021. Aucuba japonica. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jul 10.
Hassler, M. 2021. Aucuba japonica. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jul 10. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2021. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Aucuba japonica. Accessed: 10 Jul 2021.
Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2019. GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset. Taxon: Aucuba japonica. .
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Aucuba japonica Thunb. in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 2014-01-13.
Aucuba japonica Thunb. – Taxon details on Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
Aucuba japonica – Taxon details on National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
EOL: Aucuba japonica

Vernacular names

Ελληνικά, Κυπριακά: Αουκούμπα

suomi: Kiiltopensas
magyar: Japán babérsom
日本語: アオキ

Aucuba japonica, commonly called spotted laurel,[2][3] Japanese laurel,[2] Japanese aucuba[2] or gold dust plant (U.S.), is a shrub (1–5 m, 3.3–16.4 ft) native to rich forest soils of moist valleys, thickets, by streams and near shaded moist rocks in China, Korea, and Japan.[1] This is the species of Aucuba commonly seen in gardens - often in variegated form. The leaves are opposite, broad lanceolate, 5–8 cm (2.0–3.1 in) long and 2–5 cm (0.79–1.97 in) wide. Aucuba japonica are dioecious. The flowers are small, 4–8 mm (0.16–0.31 in) diameter, each with four purplish-brown petals; they are produced in clusters of 10-30 in a loose cyme. The fruit is a red drupe approximately 1 cm (0.39 in) in diameter that is avoided by birds.[4]

The variegation, considered by some to be an attractive property, is caused by 'Aucuba bacilliform', a putative species of virus in the genus Badnavirus.[5]


Aucuba japonica was introduced into England in 1783 by Philip Miller's pupil John Graeffer, at first as a plant for a heated greenhouse. It became widely cultivated as the "gold plant" by 19th-century gardeners. The plants being grown were female, and it was a purpose of Robert Fortune's botanizing trip to newly opened Japan in 1861 to locate a male. It was located in the garden of Dr. Hall, resident at Yokohama, and sent to the nursery of Standish & Noble at Bagshot, Surrey. The firm's mother plant was fertilized and displayed, covered with red berries, at Kensington in 1864, creating a sensation that climaxed in 1891 with the statement from the Royal Horticultural Society's secretary, the Rev. W. Wilkes, "You can hardly have too much of it".[6] A reaction to its ubiquitous presence set in after World War II.

This plant is valued for its ability to thrive in the most difficult of garden environments, dry shade. It also copes with pollution and salt-laden coastal winds. It is often seen as an informal hedge, but may also be grown indoors as a houseplant.[7] Today numerous cultivars are available from garden centres. The most popular cultivar is 'Variegata', with yellow spots on the leaves;[8] this is a female clone, a similar male clone being named 'Maculata'. The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:

'Golden King'[10]
'Rozannie' – A self-fertile variety not requiring a pollinator, produces deep red berries against solid green, glossy foliage.[11]

Other cultivars include:-

forma longifolia[12]
'Mr. Goldstrike' – Male plant with leaves heavily speckled in yellow.[13]
'Picturata' – Female plant with yellow foliage fringed with green.[14]
'Petite Jade' – Variety with narrower leaves than other species, slender, and serrated. Solid green, growing to 6 ft. tall (can reach 10 ft. after 20 or more years).[15]
'February Star' – Female plant with narrow leaves and sparse dots of variegation.[16]


Japonica means 'from Japan'.[17]


Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
"Aucuba japonica". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 8 January 2018.
English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 370. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017 – via Korea Forest Service.
Fell, Derek (1992). The essential gardener. Gramercy. ISBN 0517693399.
"Aucuba bacilliform (Aucuba ringspot virus)". Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network. Archived from the original on 2015-07-22. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
Coats (1964) 1992.
RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
"...whose measled form is now so common that one hardly realizes that there is also an unspotted Aucuba, which can be quite a handsome bush" (Coats 1992).
"Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia' (f/v) AGM".
"Aucuba japonica 'Golden King' (m/v) AGM".
"Aucuba japonica 'Rozannie' (f/m) AGM".
"Aucuba japonica f. longifolia".
"Mr. Goldstrike Aucuba". Retrieved 2018-02-20.
"Picturata Aucuba". Retrieved 2018-02-20.
"Petite Jade Aucuba". Retrieved 2018-02-20.
"February Star Aucuba". Retrieved 2021-02-13.
Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). p 220

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