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Japanese Privet Ligustrum japonicum

Phonetic Spelling
lig-GUS-trum juh-PON-ih-kum
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

This plant is problematic and alternatives should be considered.  Please see the suggestions in the left-hand column.

Japanese Privet is a large evergreen shrub or small tree in the Oleaceae (olive) family native to eastern Asia. Japanese privet is weedy in disturbed areas around buildings and has escaped and naturalized in moist areas.

It grows rapidly up to 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide in the sun to partial shade. It is dense and upright, drought and salt spray tolerant, can tolerate being pruned heavily, and grows in a range of soil conditions (except constantly wet). It flowers in late spring with four parted flowers and has an odor that is offensive to many people. It has lustrous, dark green foliage and is frequently planted around buildings and pruned to a "giant meatball" shape or small tree. The bark on the stems has distinct lenicles. 

It works in the landscape as an evergreen ornamental shrub, however, it does not work well as a foundation plant. It is tolerant of alkaline soils, pollution, shade, dry conditions, and it is cold hardy. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves are opposite, evergreen, entire, and coriaceous
  • 4-5 pairs of lateral veins are raised under leaves
  • Twigs are profusely dotted with large gray lenticels

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Whiteflies, Japanese and ligustrum weevils, white peach scale, and privet rust mites are common insect problems.  Anthracnose, twig blight, cankers, powdery mildew, root rot are common disease problems.  Susceptible to copper deficiency.  It can be weedy in disturbed areas has escaped and naturalized in moist areas.

Listed as invasive in North Carolina by:

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Coriaceum', 'Recurvifolium', 'Rotundifolium', 'Silver Star'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#invasive#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#weedy#salt tolerant#shade garden#high maintenance#showy fruits#fast growing#salt spray tolerant#cpp#deer resistant#blue fruits#cold tolerant#alkaline soils tolerant#black fruits#fantz#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#pruning tolerant#lenticles#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Coriaceum', 'Recurvifolium', 'Rotundifolium', 'Silver Star'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#invasive#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#white flowers#shrub#wildlife plant#weedy#salt tolerant#shade garden#high maintenance#showy fruits#fast growing#salt spray tolerant#cpp#deer resistant#blue fruits#cold tolerant#alkaline soils tolerant#black fruits#fantz#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#pruning tolerant#lenticles#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ligustrum
    Species:
    japonicum
    Family:
    Oleaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South East China to Temp. Eastern Asia
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruit attracts birds.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to damage by deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Oval
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Blue
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are flat, berry-like drupes that are 0.2" long and start out green ripen to blue-black.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Creamy white fetid flowers on 2-6" terminal pyramidal panicles in late spring. They have an unpleasant odor.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are opposite, simple, broad-ovate to ovate-oblong, entire, coriaceous, glabrous, and dark green in color. They have 4-5 pairs of indistinct raised veins on the undersurface and grow 2-4" long.
  • Bark:
    Surface/Attachment:
    Lenticels
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Twigs are smooth, gray, and covered with large lenticels.
  • Landscape:
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Pollution
    Salt
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, weakness, Gastrointestinal upset (most common), incoordination, increased heart rate, death (rare), low blood pressure, cold and clammy skin possibly lasting 48 to 72 hours
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Glycosides: syringin (ligustrin), a glycoside; shikimic acid (lowest toxic dose 4,000mg); and others
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Leaves