Aucuba – Identifying Seed

Q: Last year I bought a bunch of aucuba plants. In with them was a plant a lot like the rest but with a different leaf. The leaf is seven inches long and two inches wide and is a dark green in color. This spring it produced large bright red berries. Do you have any ideas what this is?

A: I think the green-leafed plant is simply another aucuba, without the typical variegated leaves. The red berries are aucuba seed. Aucuba, like holly, is dioecious, meaning there are separate male and female plants. Only females produce berries but their leaves are identical otherwise.

If you like the berries, don’t worry about searching for a male plant for pollination. Aucuba is typically propagated by cuttings taken from random plants in a nursery so you’re very likely to get at least one male if you buy five or six plants.