Appearance: Rounded evergreen shrubs, simple leaves, entire to dentate; fruits are a berry-like drupe.
Flowers: Purple flowers in panicles.
Features: Grown for their ornamental foliage and colourful berries.
Origin: 3 or 4 species; from Himalayas to East Asia and Japan.
Culture: Grow in sun or shade, grows in most soil types but prefers moist well-drained conditions. Plants will tolerate dense shade and atmospheric pollution. Plants also do well in coastal gardens. Variegated types retain colour better in open positions. Plants are dioecious; both male and female plants are required to produce berries; usually a ratio of three males to one female is suffice for fruiting. No pruning is necessary but old stems can be cut back in spring.
Propagation: Propagation is usually by 10-15cm cuttings taken in late summer to early autumn preferably with a heel, but can also be grown by seed planted in autumn, though it is a slow method.
Health: Hardy but can suffer sun burn or frost burn in exposed situations. They may also get a physiological disorder marked by black leaf blotches as a result of unsuitable soils.
Uses: Mostly grown for foliage effect in a shrubbery. Aucubas can also be easily grown in containers, in shady gardens, or as house plants.
Species & Varieties:
A. japonica -Variable height due to cultivars. Yellow stripped or plain green leaves. Attractive red berries.
A. japonica aureo variegata (Gold dust plant) -Yellow spotted plant.