Description from Flora of China
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.
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.
Geographical distribution is the same as that of the family.