Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) is a shrub with thin opposite leaves, semievergreen to evergreen, and thicket forming to 30 feet in height. They have multiple leaning-to-arching stems with long, leafy branches. Chinese privet is one of the most widely spread invasive plants in the South. It has showy clusters of small white flowers in spring that yield abundant clusters of small ovoid, dark purple berries during fall and winter.
An aggressive and troublesome invasive, often forming dense thickets, particularly in bottomland forests and along fencerows, privet is shade tolerant and colonizes by root sprouts and is spread widely by abundant bird- and animal-dispersed seeds. Its seeds are thought to be viable only for one year. Many shallow surface roots sprout when the parent tree is topkilled. Despite its invasive nature, privet is still being produced, sold, and planted as ornamentals.
Management strategies for privet:
- DO NOT PLANT PRIVET. Remove prior plantings, and control sprouts and seedlings. Bag and dispose of fruit in a dumpster or burn.
- Minimize disturbance in areas where these plants occur.
- Treat when new plants are young to prevent seed formation.
- Cut when fruits are not present.
- Manually pull new seedlings and saplings when soil is moist, ensuring removal of all roots.
- Readily eaten by goats, sheep, and deer when reachable.