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Spotted Laurel

Aucuba japonica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Garryaceae (Silk Tassel)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
3 metres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, parks, woodland.

Purple, 4 petals
Small clusters of tiny maroon flowers with 4 cream-coloured anthers, each flower having 4 petals.
A red berry (drupe), up to 1cm in diameter.
An evergreen shrub. Thick, leathery, shiny leaves. Pale green, heavily mottled yellow. The leaf margins are narrowly serrated.
Other Names:
Gold Dust Plant, Japanese Aucuba, Japanese Laurel.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Aucuba japonica, also known as Japanese aucuba or Japanese laurel, is a species of evergreen shrub or small tree that is native to Japan, China and Korea. The shrub can grow up to 3m tall and has glossy, dark green leaves that are typically 8-10cm long. It produces small red, yellow or green flowers in late winter or early spring, and red or black berries in autumn. It is commonly used as a hedge plant, as a specimen plant, or as a shade-loving shrub in gardens and landscaping. It is tolerant of shade, dry soils, and pollution which makes it a good option for planting in urban areas. The leaves of A. japonica have been used for centuries as a medicinal plant and is also used in traditional Chinese medicine. The leaves contain compounds such as flavonoids and triterpenoids that are believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.


Spotted Laurel, also known as Aucuba japonica, is a popular evergreen shrub that is native to Japan, Korea, and eastern China. It is prized for its glossy, dark green leaves that are speckled with golden-yellow spots. The plant is commonly used in landscaping and as a houseplant, and it is easy to care for, making it a great choice for beginners.


Spotted Laurel is a slow-growing shrub that typically reaches a height of six to ten feet, with a similar spread. It has large, glossy, dark green leaves that are oval or lance-shaped, and measure between three to eight inches long. The leaves are thick and leathery, which makes them resistant to pests and diseases. The plant's most distinctive feature is its spots; the spots are bright yellow and can be found on the leaves in a variety of patterns.

Growing Conditions

Spotted Laurel is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. It prefers partial to full shade and grows best in moist, well-drained soil. However, it can also tolerate dry conditions and poor soil. It is a great plant for those who live in colder climates because it can withstand freezing temperatures.


Spotted Laurel is an easy plant to care for. It requires minimal pruning and can be left to grow naturally. However, if you want to control its size or shape, you can prune it in the early spring before new growth appears. The plant prefers moist soil, so make sure to water it regularly, especially during hot, dry weather. Fertilizing once a year with a slow-release fertilizer will provide the necessary nutrients to keep the plant healthy.


Spotted Laurel is a popular landscaping plant and is often used in hedges, screens, and as a specimen plant. It is also a popular houseplant, and can be grown in a container indoors. The plant's glossy leaves and bright spots make it a great choice for adding color and texture to any garden or indoor space.

Here are some additional information and facts about Spotted Laurel:


Spotted Laurel can be propagated through stem cuttings or by seed. Stem cuttings should be taken in the early summer and should be at least six inches long. They should be rooted in a mixture of sand and peat moss, and kept in a warm, humid environment until new growth appears. Seeds should be sown in the fall, and will typically germinate within a few weeks.


There are several different varieties of Spotted Laurel, including 'Crotonifolia', which has green leaves with yellow spots that are concentrated near the center of the leaf, and 'Variegata', which has green and yellow variegated leaves. There is also a dwarf variety called 'Nana', which grows to be only two to three feet tall.


It is important to note that Spotted Laurel is toxic to pets and humans if ingested. The plant contains a toxin called aucubin, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms if consumed. It is recommended to keep the plant out of reach of children and pets, and to wear gloves when handling it.

Uses in Traditional Medicine

In traditional medicine, the leaves of Spotted Laurel have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, sore throat, and arthritis. The plant contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, which may explain its use in traditional medicine.

Wildlife Habitat

Spotted Laurel is an excellent plant for providing cover and food for wildlife. The plant's dense foliage provides shelter for birds and small animals, and its berries are a valuable food source for birds, including thrushes and robins.

Uses in Feng Shui

In Feng Shui, Spotted Laurel is considered to be a plant that brings good luck and prosperity. The plant's leaves, with their glossy texture and bright spots, are said to symbolize wealth and good fortune. The plant is often used in office spaces and homes to attract positive energy and promote success.

Pests and Diseases

Spotted Laurel is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but it can be susceptible to scale insects and spider mites. Scale insects appear as small, round bumps on the leaves, and can be treated with insecticidal soap. Spider mites are tiny insects that can cause webbing to appear on the leaves, and can be treated with insecticidal soap or a mixture of water and dish soap.

Invasive Potential

In some areas, Spotted Laurel has the potential to become invasive and may pose a threat to native plant species. In these areas, it is important to avoid planting Spotted Laurel and to remove any plants that have become established.

In conclusion, Spotted Laurel is a versatile and attractive plant that can provide many benefits to gardens and indoor spaces. It is important to be aware of its potential toxicity and to take precautions to keep it out of reach of children and pets. Additionally, in areas where it has the potential to become invasive, it is important to avoid planting it and to remove any established plants.


Spotted Laurel filmed at Duxbury, Lancashire on the 15th January 2023.


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