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Privet

Ligustrum obtusifolium

 

Also known as: border privet, blunt-leaved privet

 

Origin: About 50 species in the privet’s genus are native to Asia, Europe, and North Africa. This particular species is native to Japan. It was introduced to the United States for use in hedges.

 

Description: Privet is a deciduous shrub with simple, oblong, opposite leaves about 1-2 inches in length. These leaves have rounded tips and bases and are dark green above and lighter green below. Clusters of small, fragrant, white, trumpet-shaped flowers appear in late spring. The fruits of the privet are very small (less than ¼ inch in diameter), ripen to blue-black, and have a waxy coating. The bark is smooth and grayish brown, with short, raised, horizontal lines (“lenticels”).

 

Distribution: Privet is found in disturbed areas such as roadsides and fields, but also in a variety of undisturbed areas including wetlands, floodplains, plains, and forests. In Indiana, it is abundant in riparian forests.


Problem: Privet can form dense stands, excluding native plants. It grows readily from root or stump sprouts or from seed. It can escape from cultivation when its fruits are eaten by birds or other animals, dispersing its seeds.

 

Control: Hand-pulling of seedlings or small plants may be effective, but care should be taken not to disturb the soil more than necessary. Glyphosate (3%) or triclopyr (3%) may be sprayed onto leaves. This can be done anytime during the growing season. Well-established stands are probably best controlled by cutting stems to ground-level and spraying or painting the cut stumps with a 20% glyphosate solution or a 20% solution of triclopyr and basal oil.

 

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. Contact your state department of agriculture for any additional pesticide use requirements, restrictions or recommendations.