The aucuba, an evergreen plant, is native to Asia and is particularly widespread in China and Japan, where it is cultivated in many households, both for ornamental purposes and for its properties. Belonging to the family of the Cornaceae, it has leaves with toothed margins characterized by shades of green that show particularly variegated striations. During the winter months, they instead turn towards a more yellowish color. The Aucuba plant produces very discreet and decidedly inconspicuous flowers, which appear in spring. It is more like small inflorescences, with a shape that resembles that of a panicle, generally brown in color. The fruits instead are beautiful berries of a very intense red tone, which resist on the plant from autumn until late spring.
To make the most of this plant, some precautions are necessary. First of all there must be a place in semi-darkness or in any case well protected from direct sunlight. The plant in fact can not withstand temperatures that exceed 20 degrees, but on the contrary can tolerate temperatures almost close to zero thermal. That’s why, in the case of hot weather, the plants must be placed in sheltered places to prevent burns to the leaves. As for the ground, you can proceed with a loose soil. The plants in the ground must be watered regularly from spring to autumn, while during winter they should be watered only if there is a prolonged drought. In the case of plants that are grown in pots, they should be watered about twice a month and only when the soil is completely dry, in order to avoid a possible water stagnation in the roots. Once the vegetative activity resumes, it is advisable to administer a fertilizer that has good nitrogen components.
Diseases and cures
Generally immune to pests of an animal type, this plant can be attacked by infections such as white sickness or powdery mildew. These are fungal diseases that are symptoms of excessive humidity in the environment. Moreover, it can suffer from root rot, which can fall prey to too frequent watering, causing a dangerous water stagnation. First of all it is important to keep in mind that when you are in areas with a particularly harsh climate and frequent nocturnal frosts, the plant must always be protected. In particular, a mulch treatment consisting of dry leaves or straw should be provided at the foot of the plants.
The aucuba was introduced for the first time in European countries by virtue of an ornamental plant. The botanist John Goefer was responsible for his introduction in 1783. Yet his name does not offer a tribute to this historical figure, but to the Japanese term with which the plant is known, namely Ookiba. Precisely to the Japanese variety are attributed some good antifungal and antibacterial properties, which have determined its success since ancient times.