Spotted Laurel Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia' (f/v)

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
Japanese laurel 'Crotonifolia'


The plant commonly known as Japanese laurel 'Crotonifolia' is a visually striking evergreen shrub. It is well-known for its glossy, leathery leaves that have a broad, gold-speckled variegation over a deep green background. The pattern of the speckles can vary from leaf to leaf, giving each one a unique appearance. These leaves are typically about 2-3 inches long and have a somewhat elongated and broad shape, with a pointed tip and a smooth margin. On Japanese laurel 'Crotonifolia', the contrast between the green and gold on the leaves creates a bold and decorative effect that is quite eye-catching. This makes it a popular choice in many gardens for creating a splash of year-round color. In terms of its floral characteristics, the Japanese laurel 'Crotonifolia' produces small, purple-red flowers, though these are not particularly showy compared to the foliage. Following the flowers, the plant may bear bright red berries that add another layer of visual interest. These berries stand out against the green and gold leaves and are often attractive to birds. The overall shape of the Japanese laurel 'Crotonifolia' is dense and rounded, with branches that grow outwards and upwards to create a lush, bushy appearance. It's important to note that the conditions in which the plant grows, such as light exposure and soil type, can influence the intensity of the leaf color and variegation.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Japanese Laurel, Spotted Laurel, Gold Dust Plant, Japanese Aucuba, Variegated Aucuba

    • Common names

      Aucuba japonica var. variegata, Aucuba japonica 'Variegata'.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The plant commonly known as Japanese laurel (Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia') is generally considered to have a low level of toxicity to humans. If ingested, it may cause mild symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. It is not typically considered life-threatening, but it is advisable to avoid eating any part of the plant and to seek medical advice if any symptoms occur.

    • To pets

      Similarly to humans, Japanese laurel is regarded as having low toxicity to pets. If your pet consumes parts of this plant, it might experience mild gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea. While it is not thought to be highly poisonous, it is still recommended to prevent pets from eating the plant and to consult a veterinarian if they do and exhibit adverse symptoms.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Height

      6 feet (1.83 meters)

    • Spread

      6 feet (1.83 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Year-Round Interest: Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia', also known as Spotted Laurel, offers visual interest throughout the year with its glossy, variegated leaves.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, Spotted Laurel is relatively drought-tolerant, making it suitable for gardens with less frequent watering.
    • Shade Tolerance: This plant thrives in shaded areas where other plants might struggle, making it ideal for under-canopy plantings or north-facing gardens.
    • Low Maintenance: Spotted Laurel requires minimal pruning and care, which is perfect for gardeners seeking low-maintenance landscaping options.
    • Dense Foliage: The plant's dense foliage provides excellent coverage, making it useful for privacy screens or as a backdrop for other plants.
    • Versatility: It can be grown in a variety of settings, including containers, borders, and as a specimen plant, providing flexibility in garden design.
    • Resistance to Pests: Spotted Laurel has a natural resistance to many common garden pests, reducing the need for chemical treatments.
    • Attractive Berries: Female plants produce attractive red or purple berries in the fall, adding another seasonal interest and providing food for wildlife.
    • Erosion Control: The dense root system of Spotted Laurel can help in stabilizing slopes and controlling soil erosion.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia', commonly known as Spotted Laurel, can be used in the creation of low-maintenance, drought-resistant gardens as its robust nature allows it to thrive with minimal watering once established.
    • Spotted Laurel is often used in floral arrangements for its glossy, speckled foliage that adds a unique texture and variegation to bouquets and indoor displays.
    • The dense, evergreen nature of Spotted Laurel makes it an excellent choice for privacy screens or hedges in urban gardens where space is limited and year-round coverage is desired.
    • Spotted Laurel wood, although not commonly used, can be carved into small objects or used in turning projects to create decorative items.
    • In garden design, Spotted Laurel can be used as a contrasting backdrop for colorful flowering plants, helping to make their hues stand out even more.
    • The leaves of the Spotted Laurel can be used in crafts, such as leaf imprinting on concrete or plaster, to create natural patterns and decorations.
    • Spotted Laurel can play a role in wildlife gardens, providing shelter and potential nesting sites for small birds.
    • In larger landscapes, Spotted Laurel can be used to stabilize soil on slopes or embankments, preventing erosion with its extensive root system.
    • During festive seasons, the branches of Spotted Laurel are sometimes used in wreaths and garlands for their vibrant foliage that retains color and texture well.
    • The plant can be incorporated into sensory gardens, as its leaves have a distinctive texture that adds a tactile element to the garden experience.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Gold Dust Plant is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Gold Dust Plant is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Resilience: Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia', commonly known as Gold Dust Plant, has glossy, speckled leaves that endure in various conditions, symbolizing the ability to withstand adversity and maintain vigor.
    • Protection: The Gold Dust Plant's robust nature and evergreen foliage are often seen as a symbol of safeguarding and creating a protective barrier against negativity and harm.
    • Prosperity: The shiny gold-spotted leaves of the Gold Dust Plant are associated with wealth and prosperity, serving as a reminder of abundance and growth.
    • Adaptability: This plant's tolerance to different light levels makes it symbolic of adaptability and the capacity to thrive in diverse environments or situations.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Gold Dust plant, which is another name for Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia', prefers consistently moist soil but does not do well with standing water. Water the plant deeply once a week, allowing water to penetrate the soil to the root level. Adjust the frequency depending on the weather; during hot, dry periods, it may need more frequent watering, while in cooler, wetter times less. A general rule is to provide about one to two gallons per week for an established outdoor shrub, less for container plants which should be monitored for when the top inch of soil feels dry.

  • sunLight

    The Gold Dust plant thrives in partial shade to full shade conditions. The ideal location would be under the canopy of larger trees or on the north side of a building where it receives dappled light or only indirect light. Direct sunlight, especially in hotter climates, can scorch the leaves and fade the vibrant colors.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Gold Dust plants prefer a temperate climate and can tolerate a temperature range from about 10 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they are ideally kept in conditions between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They can withstand a light frost, but prolonged exposure to temperatures below freezing can damage the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Gold Dust plants helps to maintain their shape and encourage bushier growth. Prune in the early spring before new growth starts, removing any dead or damaged branches and to shape the plant. Thin out older branches to allow light to reach the inner foliage. Pruning can be done annually, but these plants are also tolerant of being left unpruned if a more natural shape is desired.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Gold dust plant thrives in moist, well-drained soil with a mix of peat, pine bark, and either sand or perlite. The ideal pH for this soil mix should range from slightly acidic to neutral, about 5.0 to 6.5 pH.

  • plantRepotting

    The gold dust plant should be repotted every 2 to 3 years to refresh the soil and to provide a larger growing space if it has outgrown its current pot.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Gold dust plants prefer high humidity levels, ideally between 60-75%, to thrive indoors.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place the gold dust plant in bright, indirect light, away from drafts.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, shelter gold dust from direct sun and harsh winds.

    • Hardiness zone

      7-10 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia', commonly known as Spotted Laurel, begins its life cycle as a seed, often germinating in spring or early summer under ideal conditions of moisture and temperature. The seedlings develop into juvenile plants with characteristic glossy green leaves with yellow spots, entering into a vegetative phase of growth where they focus on developing roots, stems, and leaves. As the plants mature, they enter the reproductive phase, typically after a few years of growth, and produce small purple-red flowers, usually appearing in the spring. These flowers are dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are on separate plants, and pollination is often aided by wind or insects. After successful pollination, female plants produce berry-like red fruits that contain seeds, completing the reproductive stage. Eventually, Spotted Laurel enters a period of senescence, where growth slows and the plant may eventually die, although individual specimens can live and remain productive for many years under optimal conditions.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to Summer

    • The Japanese Laurel 'Crotonifolia', often referred to as Aucuba japonica 'Crotonifolia', is most commonly propagated by semi-ripe cuttings. The best time to take these cuttings is in late summer. To propagate, you select a healthy semi-ripe stem, which means it's partially matured and not too woody or too soft. Cut a section about 4 to 6 inches (approximately 10 to 15 centimeters) long just below a leaf node, remove the lower leaves, and dip the cut end in rooting hormone. The cutting can then be placed in a pot filled with a mixture of peat and perlite or similar medium, ensuring the leaf node where the leaves were removed is buried. The pot should be kept in a warm environment with indirect light and covered with a plastic bag to maintain high humidity. Once the cuttings have rooted, which can take several weeks, they can be potted on into individual containers.