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Japanese Laurel (Aucuba japonica Thunb.)

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Japanese Laurel
Photo © zoedavis, Public Domain.


A broadleaf evergreen shrub, native to Japan, and sometimes used in landscaping in the US.

Range - Expand

Introduced or Not Present

This tentative map is based on our own research. It may have limited data on Canada and/or Mexico, and there is some subjectivity in our assignment of plants as introduced vs. expanded. Read more in this blog post.


In its native range in Japan, the Korean peninsula, and Taiwan, found on moist sites in valleys and along streams, in soils rich in organic matter, sometimes rocky soils.

Introduced at a few sites in Washington state and North Carolina. Its habitat in North America is not well-understood.


Variegated (yellow-spotted) "Cultivars" are sold and planted in landscaping; the spots are caused by a Badnavirus, which does not typically kill the plant.

There are other Aucuba species globally, but no others are found in North America. The broader silktassel family (Garryaceae) however also contains the Garrya genus, which has eight species native to North America, but none of these overlap with this species in the wild, being limited to the southwest and farther south on the west coast, but some probably overlap with this species in landscaping as it is fairly widely planted.

The Garryales order contains one other plant found in North America, hardy rubber tree (Eucommia ulmoides), which is introduced.

Aucuba japonica (Japanese Laurel) | USDA PLANTS Database (About This Site)

Aucuba japonica (Spotted Laurel) | Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder (About This Site)

Aucuba japonica | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

Aucuba japonica | Flora of North America (About This Site)

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Photo © zoedavis, Public Domain.
Photo © Caleb O'Reilly, Public Domain.