Border privet

Ligustrum obtusifolium

Invader Images

    • Privet has oppositely arranged, simple leaves, and small, white flowers
      Privet has oppositely arranged, simple leaves, and small, white flowers
    • Border privet infestation
      Border privet infestation
    • Tall shrub, with multiple stems, leafy branches
      Tall shrub, with multiple stems, leafy branches

Common Look-alikes

    • Northern Spicebush has alternately arranged leaves and a distinct smell when the leaves are crushed
      Northern Spicebush has alternately arranges leaves and a distinct smell when the leaves are crushed

Identification

Appearance

Ligustrum obtusifolium is a woody, perennial, semi-deciduous shrub that grows to 10 ft. (3 m) in height. It is many stemmed and has pubescent branchlets.

Foilage

Its opposite leaves are elliptic to oblong-ovate in shape and measure 1-2 in. (2.5-5 cm) long and 0.3-1 in. (0.75-2.5 cm) wide. The upper leaf surface is dark green in color, while the lower surface is pubescent, or only pubescent on the mid-rib.

Flowers

The white flowers are unpleasantly scented and are borne in nodding panicles that measure 0.75-1.5 in. (2-2.5 cm) long. The flowers appear on the plant in June.

Fruit

The fruits are black or blue-black, somewhat glaucous drupes. They are subglobose in shape and measure 0.25 in. (6 mm) in length. Fruit appear on the plant in September and persist on the branches into the winter.

Biology

Ecological Threat

Privets can form dense thickets, which reduce light and moisture availability for native shrubs and wildflowers. This decreases plant diversity and impacts the animals which depend on them for food and shelter.

Origin

Privet species were introduced to the US in the 1800s

Habitat

Forests, forest edges, fields, meadows, disturbed areas with rich soils

Life Cycle

Privets produce white flowers from April to June, which are followed by green drupes from July to March. These fruit gradually ripen to a dark purple or black color in the winter. It is often difficult to differentiate between the four privets to the species level, particularly when they are not flowering.

Management Options

This is considered a watch list species.

Mechanical management

Once established in an area, privet can be difficult to control or remove. With smaller populations, hand removal can be used. However, fragments of root that are left behind in the ground can re-sprout.

Chemical management

Cut stump, basal bark, for suggestions on specifics, check out the Midwest Invasive Plant Network Control database.

  • Be careful not to damage or kill nearby native plants when conducting management work. And when using herbicides, always follow the instructions on the label.

How You Can Help

Citations

Photo Credit

Border Privet, 5544025, Richard Gardener, UMES

Border Privet, 5453179, Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut

Border Privet, 5544022, Richard Gardner, UMES

Northern Spicebush, 2151024, Chris Evans, University of Illinois

Information Credit

PA Dept Conservation and Natural Resources, Border Privet

National Park Service, Border Privet