Aucuba japonica

19 Feb

Aucuba japonica (02/02/2014, Kew Gardens, London)

Aucuba japonica (02/02/2014, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to shade

Flowering period: Spring

Soil: Well drained

Eventual Height: 3m

Eventual Spread: 3m

Hardiness: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b

Family: Garryaceae

Aucuba japonica is a slow growing, medium sized, evergreen, spreading shrub. Its mid to dark green leathery leaves are ovate to lanceolate with slightly serrated margins, up to 10cm long and 5cm broad. This is a dioecious plant producing male and female plants, only the female produces berries. Its dark purple flowers are up to 8mm across and borne in small clusters of 10-30 in a loose cyme. The red fruit of the plant is a berry, are up to 1cm in diameter, initially green and persist on the plant through out the winter months. The berry of the plant is poisonous.

Aucuba japonica, commonly know as Japanes Laurel, is native to Japan and China. in its native habitat it grows in woods in lowlands and mountains regions.

The etymological root of the binomial name Aucuba is derived from the Latinised form of the Japanese word Aokiba, the Japanese name for this plant. Japonica is derived from the Latin meaning ‘of Japan’.

The landscape architect may find Aucuba japonica useful as a medium sized evergreen shrub for shady locations including within the canopy spread of trees. This shrub may form a formal or informal hedge. Once established this plant is drought resistant, is pollution tolerant and tolerant of maritime conditions.

Ecologically Aucuba japonica is of little value to wildlife as the birds avoid its toxic berries.

Aucuba japonica Leaf (02/02/2014, Kew Gardens, London)

Aucuba japonica Leaf (02/02/2014, Kew Gardens, London)

The Royal Horticultural Society has given a number of varieties of  Aucuba japonica their prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

Aucuba japonica prefers moist, reasonably fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. Waterlogged soils should be avoided. It will tolerate dry soils, including ground near mature trees.

Aucuba japonica requires little maintenance.

Davis Landscape Architecture

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