Chris Evans, River to River CWMA (L. sinense)


Border privet - Ligustrum obtusifolium Sieb. & Zucc.
California privet - L. ovalifolium Hassk.
Chinese privet - L. sinense Lour.
European privet - L. vulgare L.
Olive Family (Oleaceae)

Origin: Japan (Border); Japan and South Korea (California); China (Chinese); Europe, Morocco, Western Asia and Caucasus (European)

There are no species of Ligustrum native to the U.S. Privets have been introduced to the U.S. since the 1800s and some species even earlier. They are commonly used as hedges in yards, gardens and other landscapes from which they have escaped and are now well established in the wild.

Distribution and Habitat
All four privet species featured here have been reported to be invasive in the mid-Atlantic region; some are recognized as invasive elsewhere in the eastern U.S. and nationwide. They thrive in floodplains, fields, disturbed forests and forest edges.

Ecological Threat
Privets form dense thickets that shade out and take the place of native shrubs and herbaceous plants. The shady thickets make conditions unsuitable for native seedlings. Phenolic compounds in the leaves protect plants from leaf-feeding insects which include native herbivorous species.

Description and Biology

Bill Johnson (L. vulgare)

James H. Miller, USDA FS (L. sinense)

Prevention and Control
Do not plant privets. Small plants can be dug out pulled out by hand or with the help of a mattock or heavy Weed Wrench® type tool. Larger plants can be cut repeatedly or treated with a systemic herbicide. Herbicide can be sprayed on foliage or applied to bark or cut stems and stumps (see Control Options). No biological controls are available for any of these species. Known pests that affect privets include a foliage-feeding insect native to Europe (Macrophya punctumalbum), a fungal leaf spot (Pseudocercospora ligustri) and a common root crown bacteria (Agrobacterium tume-faciens).


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Last updated:11-Nov-2010