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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 14 | Aucubaceae

1. Aucuba Thunberg, Nov. Gen. Pl. 3: 61. 1783.

桃叶珊瑚属 tao ye shan hu shu

Trees or shrubs, 1–10 m tall; branches with conspicuous leaf scars, often pubescent when young, glabrous when old. Leaf blade usually green or sometimes variegated with yellow, yellowish, or white spots, variable, from lanceolate to obcordate, pubescent or glabrous, veins raised abaxially, often impressed adaxially, lateral veins usually connected before reaching margin, extending to apex of marginal teeth, margin serrate, glandular serrate, or dentate, rarely entire. Staminate inflorescences (2–)7–15 cm, paniculate or racemose-paniculate, pyramidal, or cylindrical. Carpellate inflorescences panicles, shorter, 1–5 cm. Flowers: calyx lobes minute, triangular or slightly orbicular; petals free, valvate, purplish red, yellow, or green, oblong or ovate, apex acuminate or caudate. Staminate flowers: filaments awl-shaped; anthers dorsifixed, rarely versatile, locules 2, rarely locule 1, dehiscing by longitudinal slits; floral disk fleshy, slightly 4-lobed. Carpellate flowers; sepals and petals articulate at base of ovary, subtended by 1 or 2 bracteoles. Fruit cylindrical or ovoid. 2n = 16, 32.

Geographical distribution is the same as that of the family.

The treatment here largely follows Soong (FRPS, loc. cit.). Several species are difficult to distinguish from each other, as the characters used to separate them are variable. The margins of the leaves, used in the key, are not consistently reliable (or stable) features. A detailed molecular and morphological study of Aucuba by Tetsuo Ohi, of the Koishikawa Botanical Garden of the University of Tokyo, is currently under way and will almost certainly result in a treatment different from the one presented here.

Some species are used medicinally in folk remedies. Species of Aucuba are excellent garden plants in warm-temperate areas because of their evergreen habit, shiny leaves, and brightly colored fruit.

1 Staminate inflorescences paniculate; apex of petals shortly acuminate (ca. 0.5 mm); stamens 3–4 mm; flowers yellowish green, yellow, or purplish red; leaves thickly leathery to subleathery.   (2)
+ Staminate inflorescences racemose-paniculate; apex of petals caudate (1–2.5 mm); stamens 1–2 mm; flowers purplish red, rarely green; leaves thickly papery to thinly leathery.   (5)
2 (1) Leaves leathery or subleathery, sometimes variegated with bright yellow spots; flowers purplish red.   2 Aucuba japonica
+ Leaves thickly leathery to subleathery, all green; flowers yellowish green, yellow, or rarely purplish red.   (3)
3 (2) Anthers fused into 1 locule; leaves subleathery.   4 Aucuba eriobotryifolia
+ Anther locules 2; leaves leathery or thickly leathery.   (4)
4 (3) Leaf blade 10–20 × 3.5–8 cm; petiole 2–4 cm; staminate inflorescence pyramidal; flowers sparse; petals 3–4 × 2–2.5 mm.   1 Aucuba chinensis
+ Leaf blade 13–20 × 3–5.5 cm; petiole 2–2.5 cm; staminate inflorescences subcylindrical; flowers dense; petals ca. 5 × 1–3 mm.   3 Aucuba confertiflora
5 (1) Margins of leaves undulate or denticulate.   (6)
+ Margins of leaves serrate.   (8)
6 (5) Leaves undulate, veins on adaxial surface inconspicuous, leaf blade broadly elliptic or obovate-elliptic, 11–18 × 4–10 cm; apical ca. 2.5 mm of petals often cirrhose.   7 Aucuba filicauda
+ Leaves with 8–14 pairs teeth, veins conspicuously impressed adaxially, leaf blade oblong, lanceolate, oblanceolate, or obovate-oblong, 5–16 × 1.5–6 cm; apex of petals caudate.   (7)
7 (6) Fruit stalk straight, not expanded at junction with fruit; leaf blade 1.5–6 cm wide; staminate flowers green; apex of petals caudate for 1–1.5 mm.   5 Aucuba chlorascens
+ Fruit stalk expanded at junction with fruit; leaf blade 2–3.7 cm wide; staminate flowers purplish red; apex of petals caudate for ca. 1 mm.   6 Aucuba robusta
8 (5) Margins of leaves sparsely serrulate; leaf blade papery or thinly leathery, often narrowly elliptic, rarely oblong-lanceolate, 10–15(–20) × 3–5(–7) cm.   8 Aucuba himalaica
+ Margins of leaves serrate or coarsely serrate; leaf blade thickly papery or subleathery, often obcordate or obovate, rarely oblong, 2.5–16 × ca. 1.5 cm.   (9)
9 (8) Margins of leaves serrate; leaf blade irregularly variegated with white or light yellow, obovate, rarely oblong, 2.5–8 × 2–4.5 cm.   9 Aucuba albopunctifolia
+ Margins of leaves coarsely serrate; leaf blade not variegated, obcordate or obovate, 8–14 × 4.5–8 cm.   10 Aucuba obcordata

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