The Japanese aucuba (Aucuba japonica), also called Japanese laurel, is a rounded, broad-leaf evergreen shrub that grows 5 to 10 feet tall and equally as wide at a slow pace. The large tapering oval leaves are glossy green, sometimes with smears or flecks of white or yellow, making it an attractive accent shrub for shady gardens in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 10. Male-gendered shrubs do not produce the showy red berries, but must be present for the berries to develop on female cultivars.
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Cultivar 'Crassifolia' produces exceptionally large leaves that are up to 10 inches long, according to the American Horticultural Society's "A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants." Each leaf blade is glossy dark green, with occasional tiny teeth on the edges, and lacking any spotting.
Another male cultivar is 'Lance Leaf.' Its leaves are elongated ovals, which indeed look more lance-like than other Japanese aucuba selections. The leaves are glossy dark green in colour with few or no teeth.
The cultivar 'Mr. Goldstrike' matures with a more upright, slightly smaller size: 4 to 6 feet tall and equally as wide. The pale yellow and deep emerald-green leaves display variable markings, from looking more green with yellow mottling and specks to nearly all pale yellow with tiny hints and flecks of green, as documented in "Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates." Leaf edges are coarsely teethed.
Another aucuba with yellow and green leaves is 'Golden King.' The leaves are narrowly oval and tapering with tiny, almost unnoticeable teeth widely spaced on the edges. They are deep green with many minute but widespread splatters of canary yellow. The yellow colouration pattern appears lacelike.
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