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PlantFiles: Gold Dust Plant, Variegated Japanese Aucuba, Japanese Laurel
Aucuba japonica 'Variegata'

Family: Cornaceae
Genus: Aucuba (AWK-yoo-bah) (Info)
Species: japonica (juh-PON-ih-kuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Variegata
Additional cultivar information: (aka Gold Dust, Maculata, Punctata)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

32 members have or want this plant for trade.


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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22 positives
6 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Brandon2 On Feb 21, 2014, Brandon2 from Brandon, MS wrote:

I have 2 plants on the front of my home for 30 plus years. The plant sends out runners beside the original plant creating additional plants. I have put plants in the wooden shaded area using the plants created by these runners.
I had a bad black mold problem on the original 2 plants. I called the county agent and was told the problem was the result of roots having too much mulching. I removed the mulching down to where I saw the fibrous roots. I put a little soil back on these. The new leaves came in green and free of the black mold.
The roots aren't deep. The plant needs the shade and little water when the leaves wilted a little.
I hope this helps someone.

Positive gregr18 On Aug 25, 2012, gregr18 from Bridgewater, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I've had success in zone 6b (SE Massachusetts) with this plant. Zero degrees F killed a few leaves, but other than that, it remained healthy and green. As others have suggested, there is potential for this plant in zone 6 gardens.

Positive valiam On Oct 4, 2011, valiam from Safety Harbor, FL wrote:

I grew this plant in Richmond, Virginia for years. It lined my house on the wall on the north side of the house, which was shaded for most of the day. I never did anything to protect it from the cold or snow. In the winter I would cut off several large cuttings and place them in a vase of water. They would brighten up the house for weeks at a time and would root while in the vase. My plants did occasionally have black leaves, but I would periodically cut them back so there was usually new growth.

Positive loovejonesx On Jul 12, 2011, loovejonesx from Durham, NC wrote:

I purchased mine ten years ago when I bought my house. It is in a dappled shady spot that would get no direct sunlight. It grew very slowly, but in the third year of having it, it exploded, & now is one of the main attractions of my backyard & seems VERY healthy!!

Positive steinbeck On Jul 11, 2011, steinbeck from Dallas, TX wrote:

There is a very simple, beautiful contemporary house near me with many of them in front doing great and it is a beautiful site. The must do very well here in Dallas.

Neutral witchy1 On Jul 11, 2011, witchy1 from Houston, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I am neutral about this plant because I have tried to grow 2 of them - only 1 seems to be surviving. Slowly but surely the leafs and the stems on the other one are turning black. As it is in shade, I believe it has a fungus or is diseased. I have sprayed it well a few times but it continues to die little by little. It is approx 2 years old and growing in a large pot.

Positive CherokeeGreg On Jul 11, 2011, CherokeeGreg from Fresno, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I didnot know what this plant was until today. I didnot know it needed to be in shade. Mine is in sun and its doing great. I love the color.

Positive atinjohn On May 14, 2011, atinjohn from Pikeville, TN wrote:

Acuba Golddust is about as carefree as you can get. I am growing 7 plants in full shade from deciduous trees, with some receiving dappled morning sunlight in the summer. Drought tolerant, easy to transplant, even easier to propagate and attractive year round.

Neutral p2tso On Jun 15, 2010, p2tso from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

I inherited this plant 2 years ago when we moved to a new house. Didn't know what it was until yesterday. So in the last 2 years, I've done very little to it - it gets some water twice a week because the lawn sprinklers water the adjacent area of grass, but no additional. It's in a partially shaded spot under another large yucca-type plant and our soil is on the clay side. It has grown quite a bit this past winter, about a foot, with average rainfall for this area, and it looks quite pretty. Only negative is that last summer, the exterior leaves scorched black. It will probably do so again this summer. Seems to bounce back though.

Positive ThePaleMoonLite On Apr 29, 2010, ThePaleMoonLite from Alexandria, VA wrote:

I live in an apartment and I have a Gold Dust plant in a pot inside my apartment. My plant looks beautiful and healthy.

Positive purplesun On Nov 4, 2009, purplesun from Krapets
Bulgaria (Zone 8a) wrote:

I grow this in the shadiest possible corner of my yard in Sofia, 2300 feet AMSL, zone 6b. Have had no problems whatsoever with Gold Dust Plant. It has been crushed by loads of cleared snow, and has regrown vigorously. Its site never seems to dry out.
There is one thing you should keep in mind with this plant and that is - avoid DIRECT sunlight. I've seen plants in such sunny situations and they look horrible, all burned and ailing.
I've seen hedges of this in Prague, Czech republic, tall plants in Bratislava, Slovakia, and they were all wonderful.

Positive SwampYankee On Apr 9, 2009, SwampYankee from East Hartford, CT (Zone 6a) wrote:

Aucuba is beyond its reported hardiness zone here in the Connecticut River Valley near Hartford, but I'm told they do well on the Connecticut Sound and Long Island. I rooted two cuttings taken in Richmond, VA in 2001 and planted one on the north side of my house and one to the north of a yew hedge; both locations are bright shade. The first winter I protected the young plants with an overturned peach basket full of oak leaves. Since then, they have slowly grown to about 4' without protection or pampering, and are lush and full. Aucuba does best in cool damp climates like the Pacific Northwest, so here they are merely a curiosity. I've heard they are massive in Ireland.

Positive RichPugetSound On Dec 14, 2008, RichPugetSound from Oak Harbor, WA wrote:

I have this plant. It's been pretty tough. I cut it back down to the ground when I didn't know what it was and it came back. This should give a clue that pruning won't kill it. It will put off new buds from the sticks left after pruning but I recommend testing on your own plant. Mine is in full sun but I have to make sure it gets water once a week when it gets into the 80's or higher. It doesn't like frost. I have a PVC frame around mine and cover it on frosty/freezing nites and that prevents the black tips. My plant is less than 4 ft high and has taken 6 years to grow that tall from being cut back to the ground.

Positive spanky_MD On Nov 9, 2008, spanky_MD from Baltimore, MD wrote:

I had one of these in a sheltered spot next to the house where it got a little late afternoon sun. It thrived for years, even when I cut it back severely several times. I threw the cuttings in a pile in the shade of a pine tree and a year later found two little new plants sprouting from them. I also took a stem cutting and grew a plant indoors.

Deer DO eat this shrub in my yard, however. That's the only negative to it. I bought another one and the deer ate it to the ground over the winter. It came back nicely and this winter I will put up some kind of protection around it.

Positive kjmcgrt On Oct 26, 2008, kjmcgrt from Monroe, NC wrote:

I recently moved into a house with 2 of these in the yard. They obviously like the conditions, close to the house, south side, mostly shade, zone 7. The larger one is about 7 ft tall and at least 5 ft around, both very full and healthy looking. Can anyone tell me about cutting them back? They have grown to partially block the entry sidewalk. When to cut back-spring? fall? and how much without hurting the plant? Thanks.

Negative vetaflame On Apr 29, 2008, vetaflame from San Diego, CA wrote:

I love the way this plant looks, but I have had no success getting it to grow in my San Diego garden. It burns up in the sun and fails to thrive in the shade. I've tried several plants in different areas in my garden, but they always die. Almost everything thrives in my garden, but this plant has been quite a disappointment to me.

Positive gammyscircus On Jun 27, 2007, gammyscircus wrote:

Deer hate this plant/bush. But I love it, only I cannot get it to grow in a pot. I've kept it in shade and check it every week only to find the the stalks are getting soft. I'll try the method of just putting them in water for a few weeks.

Positive collies4u On May 16, 2007, collies4u from Checotah, OK wrote:

My friend's mother from Maryland gave me a start of this plant last January (2007). I brought it back to Oklahoma on the plane with me wrapped in wet paper towels in a plastic bag. I put it in a container of just regular tap water. In about 30 days, roots started growing, then about 3 months after I put it in water, a small puple flower appeared close to the water line. I was so amazed by it I took a close-up of it, which I'll try to send. It reminded me of a very tiny water lily. I haven't seen any other pictures of these flowers like this.

Positive tropicalbear On Apr 21, 2007, tropicalbear from Cincinnati, OH wrote:

Very nice plants! One of a very few evergreen plants in this area that have a tropical look. Had some varigated sports that I took cuttings from - turned out quite nice- hope to post pics soon.

Positive Savage223 On Apr 28, 2006, Savage223 from Elizabethtown, PA wrote:

I have two of these plants which were planted in 1987. They stand 3-1/2 feet tall at this time. I have never seen any "fruit" on these- probably due to the lack of gender or nearby opposing gendered plants.

I live in Hershey, Pennsylvania, which is between the two other PA locations listed.

They have been a hardy plant set, considering they're located on the border of the driveway where salt and road contaminants can get washed into their beds easily.

I, too, have experienced the blackened tips of the plants- though I wasn't sure if this was winter damage or sunlight. (They are located right next to the house on the east side, and receive light only between the hours of 10am and noon during the winter.) The black tips snap off on their own during early summer, and I do not usually see them until the following spring again.

I don't know if they have a propensity for attracting ants, but the only place I've found them in my entire yard was around the base of these. Again: they are located next to the pavement, which is certainly a place ants like to build.

I'd recommend these, provided you have the right sun location and lack deer.

Positive pokerboy On Sep 3, 2004, pokerboy from Canberra
Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant supplies great foliage for the area of my shaded patio. It grows slowly and if a male and female plant are close to each other the female plant may produce bright red berries all winter long. pokerboy.

Positive Paulwhwest On Apr 30, 2004, Paulwhwest from Irving (Dallas area), TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

It sure isn't fast growing, but my experience has been that it is quite easy-going. It's very disease resistant, and pretty drought tolerant. On top of that it's beautiful all year around.

Positive wnstarr On Apr 25, 2004, wnstarr from Puyallup, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Edgewood, Wa. I have one growing in the woods behind my house. It is in the shade and I keep it trimmed to block any future development. It is a bush that stands 10-14 foot tall and is just as wide. Is a bright spot in the dark green of the woods. I have broken off limbs about 8-12 inches long and stuck them directly into the soil. The have rooted, no hormone, just keep them moist. Make a great looking hedge.

Neutral youreit On Mar 17, 2004, youreit from Knights Landing, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

After I bought this plant, and my mom told me she'd grown this successfully years ago in the San Jose, CA, area, which has semi-coastal influence, I almost threw it out. I live in the border area of Sunset zones 8 & 14 in N. California, which gets very hot in the summer. I planted it in full shade last year, and it's growing like crazy now, the new light green leaves contrasting beautifully with the older growth. It's only about 1 ft. tall now, so I look forward to more growth in the future.

UPDATE - 03/03/2010
Yikes, 6 years later, and my poor plant has been destroyed by the neighbors! They cut back an oleander and a walnut tree to the west, making my shady area into an afternoon-sun area. Black leaves, no new growth - it's sad. Rest in pieces, Aucuba.

Positive plantenough On Feb 23, 2004, plantenough wrote:

you can't kill it. I've had to have several trees removed in my back yard, and each time these bushes are right in the way of the truck access. they cut them down to nubbs, and one year later there 3 feet tall again.

Neutral lakebird On Jul 16, 2003, lakebird from (Zone 7b) wrote:

In my area, this plant is like "Deer Candy". Deer have completely destroyed my 3 plants.

Negative cbudt On Sep 5, 2002, cbudt wrote:

I've found that sun damage results in blackened leaves.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 28, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Can only tolerate sunny spots in cooler sun can cause sunburn and defoliation. Flowers are very small. Pest problems include nematodes. Must have well drained soil or the roots will rot.

Neutral mosaic On Jun 18, 2002, mosaic wrote:

This plant is dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers are produced on separate individuals. The female plants will produce attractive clusters of bright scarlet fruit in the late fall and winter if there's a male plant close by.

Positive Terry On Mar 7, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Probably the best-known aucuba, has dark green glossy leaves spotted with yellow. Requires shade from hot sun; accepts deep shade. Nice container plants for shady terraces, or plant underneath trees where they will tolerate low light and successfully compete with tree roots.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Wetumpka, Alabama
Solgohachia, Arkansas
Bakersfield, California
Bootjack, California
Ceres, California
Chowchilla, California
Fresno, California (2 reports)
Knights Landing, California
Los Angeles, California
Martinez, California
Norwalk, California
Pollock Pines, California
Roseville, California
San Mateo, California
Stockton, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Vacaville, California
East Hartford, Connecticut
Bear, Delaware
Dover, Delaware
Wilmington, Delaware
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Navarre, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia (2 reports)
Cedartown, Georgia
Dallas, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Villa Rica, Georgia
Lawrence, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Annapolis, Maryland
Dunkirk, Maryland
Lutherville Timonium, Maryland
Millersville, Maryland
Pikesville, Maryland
Rockville, Maryland
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Harwich Port, Massachusetts
Batesville, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi
Madison, Mississippi
Marietta, Mississippi
Raymond, Mississippi
Waynesboro, Mississippi
Las Vegas, Nevada
Collingswood, New Jersey
Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Neptune, New Jersey
Hurley, New York
Locust Valley, New York
New Hyde Park, New York
New York City, New York
Roslyn, New York
Cary, North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina (2 reports)
Durham, North Carolina
Efland, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Hillsborough, North Carolina
Louisburg, North Carolina
Mooresville, North Carolina
New Bern, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina (2 reports)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Checotah, Oklahoma
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Ashland, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Abington, Pennsylvania
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
Mount Joy, Pennsylvania
Wrightsville, Pennsylvania
Florence, South Carolina
Irmo, South Carolina
Ladson, South Carolina
North Augusta, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Knoxville, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee (3 reports)
Nashville, Tennessee
Pikeville, Tennessee
Woodlawn, Tennessee
Athens, Texas
Austin, Texas
Dallas, Texas (2 reports)
Desoto, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas (3 reports)
Houston, Texas
Irving, Texas
Katy, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Yantis, Texas
Alexandria, Virginia (2 reports)
Hood, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Newport News, Virginia
Norfolk, Virginia
Springfield, Virginia
Anacortes, Washington
Bellingham, Washington
Puyallup, Washington
Seattle, Washington (2 reports)

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