Native to: China
Widely introduced into temperate regions around the world for its ornamental purposes and use in hedgerows, glossy privet is tolerant of a wide range of soils and light conditions and, in addition to vegetative reproduction, it produces copious seeds which are readily dispersed by birds. These features help to make it a successful invader. First introduced to the US in the late 1700s and again in the mid-1800s, its first vouchered herbarium specimen in Florida is dated from 1936. This species remains widely available commercially, but non-invasive and native alternatives should be considered for landscapes in Florida.
Habit: Evergreen shrub or tree to 10 m tall, but typically smaller, with a dense, rounded crown and glabrous twigs with corky lenticels.
Leaves: Leaves opposite, simple, leathery, ovate to elliptic, to 15 cm long by 6 cm wide, glossy dark green above, margins entire, with a thin translucent vein often visible when held up to light, bases rounded to broadly wedge shaped, tips narrowing to a sharp point, leaves often V-shaped (as if folded lengthwise down the middle)
Flowers: small, white, fragrant, bisexual, numerous, in pyramidal clusters at branch tips. Corolla tube to 3 mm, equaling or shorter than the corolla lobes, stamens exerted beyond corolla.
Fruit: a persistent, globose to oblong, blackish-purple drupe, to 8 mm long.
Distribution in Florida: scattered distribution reported from 37 counties throughout the state.
Capable of invading natural areas such as floodplain forests and woodlands. The aggressive nature of privets (rapid growth, prolific seeder, and vegetative regeneration) allows for the formation of dense thickets that outcompete native species by reducing the light availability and competing for resources. Seeds are consumed and dispersed by birds and other wildlife. Other environmental impacts may include changes in nutrient cycling, soil properties and disturbance regimes. Additionally, several species of Ligustrum have been reported as a reservoir for pests in tropical and temperate crops. It has also been associated with livestock poisoning from leaves and fruits, however the toxic principle is not definitely known.
Do not plant.
Hand pull young seedlings and small plants. Larger plants may need to be dug out. Plants should be pulled as soon as possible, before they produce seeds. The entire root must be removed to prevent resprouting. Replace with native plants.
For smaller infestations or areas where herbicide applications are not feasible mowing and cutting are appropriate. Stems should be cut as close to the ground as possible at least once per growing season. Mowing and cutting will not eradicate Ligustrum spp., but it will provide some level of management. Continuous mowing will work, but frequency is key.
Although no classical biological control agents have been developed, the non-native seed attacking Ligustrum weevil has been found in established populations. Learn more.
Cut stump: should be considered when treating individual shrubs. Immediately after cutting stems at or near ground level apply herbicide being careful to cover the entire surface. Effectiveness of the herbicide is increased if holes are cut in the top of the freshly felled stump. 25% Garlon 3A or 25% glyphosate product.
Basal bark: 15–20% Garlon 4 or 100% Pathfinder II. Stems <0.5 inch diameter are susceptible to basal bark applications, larger stems must be notched or frilled.
Foliar: 3–5% glyphosate product. Foliar treatment is effective for dense thickets of Ligustrum and best done in the late fall and early winter.
Learn more about creating an integrated management plan.
UF IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas
View records and images from University of Florida Herbarium