Aucuba japonica 'Variegata'
Description: A. japonica 'Variegata' is a large bushy, rounded evergreen shrub with big handsome glossy, toothed leaves covered in yellow blotches. A female variety of laurel with small insignificant purple flowers in spring which may be followed by clusters of red berries in autumn (see below for details). Spotted laurels give colour and structure throughout the year and are ideal for a formal hedge. They are tolerant of adverse conditions including pollution and so particularly suited to urban and suburban gardens.
Climate / Position: Very versatile, noted for shade tolerance but will also grow in partial shade or even full sun.
Height / Spread: Larger form of Aucuba reaching 3 x 3 metres.
Soil Requirements: Thrives in most soils, including dry ground near hedges and trees. Avoid waterlogged soils.
Pruning : Shrubs may be left to grow unchecked, or lightly trimmed to shape once annually in late summer, best to use secateurs to avoid cutting the large leaves. Can also be grown and pruned as an evergreen hedge.
Special Requirements: Though male and female flowers produced, planting with a known male Aucuba will ensure annual cropping of berries for added interest.
This variegated plant was the first Aucuba to be introduced to the west from Japan in 1783 and is a well known feature of the Victorian shrubbery. In the absence of a male form, plant bears few berries and it was over 100 years before the explorer, Robert Fortune brought home a male form, giving a new burst to the popularity of this plant. For a while male plants were sold for large amounts, so garden owners could produce berries.
Can also be found listed as Aucuba japonica 'Maculata'.