Border privet

Ligustrum obtusifolium

Images of this species:

Common look-alikes:



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


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


The white flowers are unpleasantly scented and are borne in nodding panicles that measure 0.75-1.5 inches long. The flowers appear on the plant in June.


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


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.


Privet species were introduced to the US in the 1800s


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.
  • Always read and follow pesticide label directions. Application of pesticides may require a certification from the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. The Agency website provides information on what applicator certification is needed.  

How You Can Help


Photo Credit

5544025, Richard Gardener, UMES,

5453179, 5453163, Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

2151024, Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

Information Credit

PA Dept Conservation and Natural Resources, Border Privet

National Park Service, Border Privet