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This article is about the privet plant in the genus Ligustrum. "Privet" may also refer to plants in two other genera in family Oleaceae: Forestiera ("Swamp-privet") and Phillyrea ("Mock-privet").

Ligustrum ovalifolium
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Genus: Ligustrum

See text

Privet was originally the name for the European semi-evergreen shrub Ligustrum vulgare, and later also for the more reliably evergreen Ligustrum ovalifolium (Japanese privet), used extensively for privacy hedging (hence "privet", private). The term is now used for all members of the genus Ligustrum, which includes about 40-50 species of evergreen, semi-evergreen or deciduous shrubs and small trees, native to Europe, north Africa, Asia and Australasia, with the centre of diversity in China, the Himalaya, Japan and Taiwan. They are placed in the olive family Oleaceae.

The flowers are small and fragrant and borne in panicles. They have four curled-back petals and two high stamens with yellow or red anthers, between which is the low pistil; the petals and stamens fall off after the flower is fertilized, leaving the pistil in the calyx tube. Flowering starts after 330 growing degree days. The fruits, borne in clusters, are small purple to black drupes, poisonous for humans but readily eaten by many birds. In favorable growing conditions, individual shrubs may produce thousands of fruits. Privet is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Common Emerald, Common Marbled Carpet, Copper Underwing, The Engrailed, Mottled Beauty, Scalloped Hazel, Small Angle Shades, The V-pug and Willow Beauty.

Selected species
  • Ligustrum amamianum. China.
  • Ligustrum angustum. China.
  • Ligustrum chenaultii. China (Yunnan).
  • Ligustrum compactum. Himalaya, southwest China.
  • Ligustrum confusum. Himalaya, Khasi Hills.
  • Ligustrum delavayanum. Southwest China, Myanmar.
  • Ligustrum expansum. China.
  • Ligustrum gracile. China.
  • Ligustrum henryi. Central China.
  • Ligustrum ibota. Japan.
  • Ligustrum indicum. Himalaya, Indo-China
  • Ligustrum japonicum. Japan, Korea.
  • Ligustrum leucanthum. China.
  • Ligustrum lianum. China.
  • Ligustrum liukiuense. Taiwan.
  • Ligustrum longitubum. China.
  • Ligustrum lucidum (Chinese or Glossy Privet). China, Japan, Korea.
  • Ligustrum massalongianum. Himalaya.
  • Ligustrum microcarpum. Taiwan; often included in L. sinense.
  • Ligustrum morrisonense. Taiwan.
  • Ligustrum obovatilimbum. China.
  • Ligustrum obtusifolium (syn. L. amurense; Japanese Deciduous Privet). Eastern Asia.
  • Ligustrum ovalifolium (Japanese or Oval-leaved Privet). Japan.
  • Ligustrum pedunculare. China.
  • Ligustrum pricei. Taiwan.
  • Ligustrum punctifolium
  • Ligustrum quihoui. China.
  • Ligustrum retusum. China.
  • Ligustrum robustum. China.
  • Ligustrum sempervirens. Western China.
  • Ligustrum sinense (Chinese Privet). China, Taiwan.
  • Ligustrum strongylophyllum. Central China.
  • Ligustrum tenuipes. China.
  • Ligustrum tschonoskii. Japan.
  • Ligustrum vulgare (Common or European Privet). Europe, northwest Africa, southwest Asia.
  • Ligustrum xingrenense. China.
  • Ligustrum yunguiense. China.

In the some parts of the world where they are not native, some privet species have become invasive weeds, spreading into wilderness areas and displacing native species. This is particularly a problem in North America, where no species of the genus occurs naturally.[1]


  • Harry Potter lives at Number Four Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, England at the home of his relatives, the Dursleys.
  • Douglas Adams mentions privet bushes several times in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, including a sequence which describes why one should try to avoid "throwing the Q in the privet bush."
  • Privet hedges surround the playing field at Sanford Stadium, home of the University of Georgia football team.

Privet is a huge problem in New Zealand. It is banned from sale or cultivation in New Zealand due to the effects of its pollen on asthma sufferers. Privet pollen is known to cause asthma and eczema in sufferers. Privet can be removed by contacting the local government to report its presence


  1. ^ Swearingen, J., K. Reshetiloff, B. Slattery, and S. Zwicker (2002). Privets. Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas. National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • Flora of China: Ligustrum
  • Flora of Taiwan: Ligustrumest:Ligustrum
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Privet". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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