Ligustrum vulgare

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Ligustrum vulgare
Mature shrub in summer
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Genus: Ligustrum
L. vulgare
Binomial name
Ligustrum vulgare

Ligustrum vulgare (wild privet, also sometimes known as common privet or European privet) is a species of Ligustrum native to central and southern Europe, north Africa and southwestern Asia, from Ireland and southwestern Sweden south to Morocco, and east to Poland and northwestern Iran.[1][2][3][4][5]



It is a semi-evergreen or deciduous shrub, growing to 3 m (rarely up to 5 m) tall. The stems are stiff, erect, with grey-brown bark spotted with small brown lenticels. The leaves are borne in decussate opposite pairs, sub-shiny green, narrow oval to lanceolate, 2–6 cm long and 0.5–1.5 cm broad. The flowers are produced in mid-summer in panicles 3–6 cm long, each flower creamy-white, with a tubular base and a four-lobed corolla ('petals') 4–6 mm diameter. The flowers produce a strong, pungent fragrance that many people find unpleasant.[citation needed] The fruit is a small glossy black berry 6–8 mm diameter, containing one to four seeds. The berries are poisonous to humans but readily eaten by thrushes, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.[4][5][6]

Plants from the warmer parts of the range show a stronger tendency to be fully evergreen; these have sometimes been treated as a separate variety Ligustrum vulgare var. italicum (Mill.) Vahl,[5] but others do not regard it as distinct.[1]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

In the British Isles it is the only native privet, common in hedgerows and woodlands in southern England and Wales, especially in chalk areas; it is less common in northern England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, where it only occurs as an escapee from cultivation.[5][7][8]

The species was used for hedging in Elizabethan gardens in England, but was superseded by the more reliably evergreen introduction L. ovalifolium from Japan.[7]

A number of cultivars have been selected, including:[5]

  • 'Aureum' – yellow leaves.
  • 'Buxifolium' – small, oval leaves not over 2.5 cm long.
  • 'Cheyenne' – cold-tolerant clone selected in North America.
  • 'Chlorocarpum' - berries green.
  • 'Insulense' – long, narrow leaves 5–11 cm long and 1-2.5 cm broad.
  • 'Leucocarpum' – berries greenish-white.
  • 'Lodense' – dense, dwarf shrub (the name is a portmanteau of 'low' and 'dense').
  • 'Pyramidale' – fastigiate.
  • 'Xanthocarpum' – berries yellow.


The species is listed as invasive as an introduced plant in Australia,[9] Canada,[10] New Zealand,[11] and the United States.[12][13] It is also fully naturalised in Mexico's highlands[14] and Argentina.[15]


Ligustrum means 'binder'. It was named by Pliny and Virgil.[16]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Flora Europaea: Ligustrum vulgare
  2. ^ "Ligustrum vulgare". Plants for a Future.
  3. ^ "Ligustrum vulgare". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2
  5. ^ a b c d e Bean, W. J. (1978). Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles vol. 2: 576–577. ISBN 0-7195-2256-0.
  6. ^ Flora of Northwest Europe: Ligustrum vulgare[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b The Reader's Digest Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Britain p. 52.
  8. ^ Flora of Northern Ireland: Ligustrum vulgare
  9. ^ Potential Environmental Weeds in Australia
  10. ^ Canadian Botanical Conservation Network: Information on Invasive Shrub and Vine Species Archived 2007-08-27 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Protecting and Restoring our Natural Heritage: Appendix one: Invasive weeds Archived 2015-01-28 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Swearingen, Jil; Reshetiloff, K.; Slattery, B; Zwicker, S. (2010). Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas, 4th Edition (PDF). National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. p. 71.
  13. ^ Invasive species: European privet
  14. ^ Plantas medicinales. Virtudes insospechadas de plantas conocidas. 1987. Reader's Digest México S.A. de C.V. Printed by Gráficas Monte Albán S.A. de C.V. Querétaro, Mexico. ISBN 968-28-0099-4
  15. ^ "Gavier-Pizarro, Gregorio I.; Kuemmerle, Tobias; Hoyos, Laura E.; Stewart, Susan I.; Huebner, Cynthia D.; Keuler, Nicholas S.; Radeloff, Volker C. 2012. Monitoring the invasion of an exotic tree (Ligustrum lucidum) from 1983 to 2006 with Landsat TM/ETM+ satellite data and support vector machines in Cordoba, Argentina. Remote Sensing of Environment. 122: 134-145". Archived from the original on 2020-10-31. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  16. ^ Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). p 237