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Aucuba japonica is a rounded, shade-loving, evergreen shrub in the Garryaceae family, a small family that includes just two genera Garrya and Aucuba. It typically grows to 6-10′ (infrequently to 15′) tall, unless pruned shorter. Native to moist woodland areas, thickets, valleys and along streams from Japan and China to the Himalayas. Coreaceous (leathery), glossy, elliptic to narrow-ovate, medium to rich green leaves (each to 8? long) have coarse marginal teeth on the upper half of each leaf. Tiny purple-maroon flowers with creamy white anthers bloom in early spring (March-April). Each flower has four sepals and four petals. Plants in this genus are dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). Male flowers appear in upright terminal panicles (cymes to 4 1/2? long). Female flowers appear in shorter clusters from the leaf axils. Pollinated female flowers are followed by ellipsoid, one-seeded, berry-like drupes (to 1/2?) which ripen to red in fall. Fruits often persist on the plant until spring.
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