Photographer: James R. Allison Affiliation: Georgia Department of Natural Resources Source: Bugwood.org Copyright: CC BY 3.0 US
An evergreen shrub with spreading branches. An escape from cultivation, found near streams and in old fencerows. Young twigs covered with fine hairs visible under a 10x hand lens. Leaves opposite, with short petioles; blades up to 2 inches long, ovate to elliptic, usually rounded at the tip, sometimes with a small notch, tapering to the base, and with smooth margins. Flowers white, fragrant, about 3/8 inch wide, borne in narrow clusters up to 4 inches long, appearing from March to May. Fruit berrylike, bluish-black (pictured above), 1/4 inch long by 3/16 inch wide, in clusters that bend down the branchlets bearing them, and hanging on into winter.
Aggressive and troublesome invasives, often forming dense thickets, particularly in bottom-land forests and along fencerows, thus gaining access to forests, fields, and right-of-ways.
Colonize by root sprouts and spread widely by abundant bird- and other animal-dispersed seeds. One mature plant can produce thousands of seeds!
Chinese privet was introduced into the United States in 1852 as an ornamental. The plant may have started to escape cultivation as early as the 1930s in Louisiana.
U.S. Habitat: Aggressive and troublesome invasives, often forming dense thickets, particularly in bottom-land forests and along fencerows, thus gaining access to forests, fields, and right-of-ways. Shade tolerant. Colonize by root sprouts and spread widely by abundant bird- and other animal-dispersed seeds.
U.S. Present: AL, AR, CT, FL, GA, HI, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NJ, OH, OK, PR, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA
To see a county distribution map provided by EDDMapS click here
Resembles the Japanese privet other Lingustrum japonicum but that species has larger and wider leaves. Also resembles plants of the Photinia genus and Carolina laurel cherry (Prunus caroliniana), which have similar evergreen, but alternate, leaves with finely toothed margins.
Alternatives: Morella cerifera (wax myrtle), Ilex vomitoria (yaupon), Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry), Rhus virens (evergreen sumac), Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush), Malpighia glabra (wild crapemyrtle).
TREE-GIRDLING has shown to be effective for large Ligustrum trees and a video on how you can girdle your own Ligustrum are here. This is also effective on fruit-bearing trees.
In order to prevent this invasive plant from settling on your property, do not plant it! Also, remove any plantings that are there quickly. It can be managed by cutting, mulching, and bulldozing when fruit are not present. If you must harvest the privet while it's fruit-bearing, be sure to bag any seeds present before disposal. Bag and dispose of fruit in a dumpster or burn. Also, you can manually pull and tree wrench when the soil is moist, but you must make sure all roots are removed. These plants can be readily eaten by sheep and goats, if you’re in a rural setting.
Chemical treatment is best applied from August to December during dry weather periods. Thoroughly wet all leaves with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant (oil solution that helps herbicide stick to plant): a glyphosate herbicide as a 3% solution (12 ounces per 3-gallon mix) or Arsenal AC* as a 1% solution (4 ounces per 3-gallon mix). For stems too tall for foliar sprays, apply Garlon 4 as a 20% solution in commercially available basal oil, diesel fuel, or kerosene (2.5 quarts per 3-gallon mix) with a penetrant (check with herbicide distributor) to young bark as a basal spray. Or, cut large stems and immediately treat the stumps with Arsenal AC* or Velpar L* as a 10% solution in water (1 quart per 3-gallon mix) with a surfactant. When safety to surrounding vegetation is desired, immediately treat stumps and cut stems with Garlon 3A or a glyphosate herbicide as a 20% solution in water (2.5 quarts per 3-gallon mix) with a surfactant.
USE PESTICIDES WISELY: Always read the entire pesticide label carefully, follow all mixing and application instructions and wear all recommended personal protective gear and clothing.
Contributions from Texas Invasives for this species page are greatly appreciated.
Bailey, L.H. and E.Z. Bailey 1977. Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada, MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York.
Miller, James H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 p.
Miller, J.H., E.B, Chambliss, N.J. Loewenstein. 2010. A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests. General Technical Report SRS-119. Asheville, NC. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 126 p.
Rehder, Alfred 1967. Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs: Hardy in North America, The MacMillan Co., New York.
Swearingen, J., K. Reshetiloff, B. Slattery, and S. Zwicker. 2002. Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas. National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 82 pp.
Tree Girdling by Cliff Tyllick:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-L1RJn095w