Privet (Small-leaf)

Ligustrum sinense
This weed is able to germinate easily and grow prolifically, giving it the ability to suppress and shade other plants living in the understory. The complex and tenacious root system chokes the soil, reducing the availability of water and nutrients for competing native species.
Family: Oleaceae
Origin: China
Habit: Small-leaf privet is a densely branched, multi-stemmed evergreen shrub 3–5m tall (occasionally growing to 7m). Privets are able to invade a range of natural ecosystems as well as forestry, horticultural crops and pastures. Most native plant communities in moist and fertile areas within current privet distributions are at risk of invasion. Privet infestations are frequently found in areas that receive increased water and nutrients from urban runoff, particularly where native vegetation has been disturbed or removed.
Leaves: Oval-shaped leaves occur in opposite pairs and are 1–7cm long and 0.5–3.5cm wide. Leaf tips may be pointed or round. The under-surface of each leaf is covered in fine hairs (including the midribs) and both leaf surfaces are mid to dull green. Leaves often have distinctly wavy margins and are held at right angles to the stems.
Flowers: White, tubular, lobed flowers with mauve to purple anthers occur in branched clusters. Flower tubes are 0.5–2mm long with 3.5mm lobes, and are very strongly scented
Fruit and Seeds: Berries are 4–10mm in diameter, green when young, ripening to dull purple or blue–black. Each berry contains 2 oblong seeds 3–4mm long
Roots: Substantial tap and lateral root system capable of invading plumbing pipes
Dispersal: Seeds spread by water, animals (mainly Currawongs) humans, contaminated soil (earth moving equipment, car tyres etc.) and garden refuse dumping.
Control: Hand dig / pull small plants. Various foliar spray methods also drill-injection; frilling; cut and paint. Relatively easy to control.


It is reported that privet pollen causes allergic reactions and hay fever. It is unlikely that the pollen of privet is strongly allergenic; however, cross-reactivity can occur where people who are sensitive to grass pollen can become sensitive to privet, producing allergic reactions. It is thought that the perfume of privet flowers causes these reactions, not the pollen.
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