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European privet (Ligustrum vulgare)

European privet Common Names: Wild privet

Description: Planted widely historically but now less utilized; vulnerable to anthracnose twig blight.

Habit: Bushy, stout, shrub with unevenly spreading branches; ranging in height from 3.5-4.5 m (12-15 ft), with a comparable spread.

Leaves: Simple, opposite, elliptic to ovate, 3-7 cm (1.2-2.5 in) long, smooth margins, dark green above and paler beneath, turns purplish in fall, leaf out early, leaves retained until late fall/early winter.

Stems: Young branches green, minutely puberulent, becoming smooth with age; thin, gray-brown bark with lenticels.

Flowers: Small, white in color, 4 petals, 2.5-7.5 cm (1-3 in) long, borne in terminal, branched cluster; strong odor; blooms mid- June.

Fruit and seeds: Fruits are small, lustrous, black, berry-like drupes that ripen in September and persist on the shrub through winter.

Habitat: Native to Europe, North Africa; Ornamental shrub that has escaped to colonize disturbed areas, forests, and grasslands; can tolerate full sun to partial shade.

Reproduction: By seeds that are widely disseminated by birds.

Similar species: Superficially resembles bush honeysuckles but leaves are smaller, flowers/fruit held at branch tip, not along its length. Also, similar to native dogwood, which have entire leaf margins and Viburnum (Viburnum), which have toothed leaf margins.

Monitoring and rapid response: Monitor sunny, disturbed, upland grasslands and forest edges. Privet leafs out early in spring and retains its leaves late in fall. Hand pull or dig seedlings & small plants; remove all roots to prevent resprouting. Cutting is effective when cut stumps are treated with herbicide. Basal bark treatment is also effective. Foliar herbicide treatment may be effective for large populations where few natives are present.

Credits: The Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) has partnered with MISIN to provide the information in this fact sheet. Species images and/or information were used with permission from "A Field Identification Guide to Invasive Plants in Michigan's Natural Communities" and "A Field Guide to Invasive Plants of Aquatic and Wetland Habitats for Michigan.

Common Name:

European privet

Scientific Name:

Ligustrum vulgare







USDA Symbol:


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