NC State University
House with native plants and animalsGoing Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants
Home > How to Go Native > Map Existing Site and Vegetation > Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast > Japanese Privet, Chinese Privet, and Common Privet

Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast

Japanese Privet, Chinese Privet, and Common Privet

Japanese Privet, Chinese Privet, and Common Privet

Japanese Privet, Chinese Privet, and Common Privet

Common Name: Japanese Privet, Chinese Privet, and Common Privet

Scientific Name: Ligustrum japonicum, Ligustrum sinense, Ligustrum vulgare

Identification: Privets are evergreen shrubs that may reach 30 feet in height.  These shrubs have opposite, leathery, oblong leaves that terminate with a pointed tip.  The stems are opposite or whorled and red tinged with many raised lenticels and the bark is light gray.  Many small, white, and fragrant flowers appear in April to June.  Drupes containing 1 to 4 seeds mature from July to March.

Ecology: Privets invade lowland and upland sites and form dense thickets.  These invasive shrubs colonize by root sprouts and seeds that are dispersed primarily by birds.  Privets form dense stands in the understory of bottomland forests and exclude native plants, drastically altering wildlife habitat.

Plant Control: Individual shrubs in the home landscape are probably best controlled by cutting the plant back to the ground in late summer and treating the cut ends with undiluted glyphosate concentrate (53.8% preferable but 41% okay) or by digging up the rootball.  Collect and bag any fruit if possible.  If a thicket is present, cut all stems back to the ground with a chainsaw or weed-eater with a brush blade attachment. Allow the cut stems to re-sprout, then spray the ground level foliage with a 5% solution of glyphosate with surfactant. If near water, use an aquatic-safe product such as Rodeo and add Agri-dex Spray Adjuvant. Retreat as necessary for full control.  Monitor for seedlings and spray or hand-pull when found.

Alternative Native Species: Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera), Inkberry (Ilex glabra)

When using herbicides remember to follow label-recommendations.  Any mention of trade, products, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by North Carolina State University.

Back to top

NC Forest ServiceNC Cooperative Extension