Biological Name:

Ligustrum spp. (Privet)

Natural Habitat:

Privet: This plant is native to Europe and Asia and grows in a variety of habitats, including fields, forests, and along roadsides.


Privet is a shrub native to Europe Asia and North America. It is a member of the olive family and is easily recognized by its oval-shaped leaves and small white flowers. The plant has a woody stem and can grow up to 10 feet tall.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is a privet a pest in Australia?
A: Small-leaf privet (Ligustrum sinense) is a serious environmental weed throughout Australia, with infestations threatening biodiversity in NSW and elsewhere. It also invades plantation forests, orchards and pastures.

Q: Should I remove privet?
A: Privet seedlings and small shrubs should be pulled, taking care not to leave a single root behind. For large privet bushes, the way to do this is to cut off the trunks an inch or so above the soil during the growing season and then immediately paint the cut surfaces with Roundup or Brush Killer.

Q: Is privet poisonous to touch?
A: Privet berries are poisonous for dogs as well as humans and the leaves can be even more toxic in large quantities. Toxicity is due to the presence of terpenoid glycosides.

Q: Is privet toxic to humans?
A: Privet is widely grown as a hedge but if eaten, its leaves and black berries are toxic to humans and dogs.

Q: Do privet trees stink?
A: The tiny white flowers of Chinese privet are formed in clusters along the tips of the branches. Privet flowers are extremely fragrant. Some people find the odor pleasant, while others find it overpowering. The fragrance is so strong and distinct that it can be detected from inside a car traveling at 55 miles per hour.

Q: Do birds nest in privet?
A: Hedging plants, such as Yew and Privet, make great nesting sites for birds as the dense foliage creates a safe, warm environment in which they can shelter from the cold in the winter and breed during spring and summer.

Q: How do you know if privet is invasive?
A: Chinese privet is the most widely occurring. Stem. Opposite or whorled, long slender branching that increases upward with twigs projecting outward at near right angles. Brownish gray turning gray green and short hairy (rusty or grayish) with light dots (lenticels).

Q: Is privet a good hedge?
A: Privets, also known as Ligustrum are fast growing evergreen shrubs that are easy to grow. Enjoy petite fragrant white flowers in late spring or summer. These tough plants are pest, deer, and disease resistant and pollution, heat, and drought tolerant. They make excellent privacy hedges.

Q: Is privet poisonous to dogs?
A: Don’t leave clippings lying about to wilt, and clear up fallen berries – the fruits of laburnum, mistletoe, privet, cherry laurel and wisteria are all potentially poisonous. Finally, if you are fortunate enough to have a lovely vine in the garden, keep an eye on the dogs – grape poisoning in canines is well recognised.

Q: Does privet lose its leaves in winter?
A: Privet’s are a great choice for hedge plants, as they’re fast-growing, hardy, and semi-evergreen – meaning they’ll preserve most of their leaves all year round.

Q: When should you not cut a privet hedge?
A: From there on, for every new foot of growth, trim back six inches. Cease trimming in late summer as not to encourage fall growth, which can lead to winter damage. When should you prune a privet hedge? Privet hedge pruning is performed in late winter.

Q: How tall will a privet get?
A: Privet Overview They are easy to grow and can reach 4 to 15 feet and can spread from 4 to 8 feet. But beware: They can be invasive in some areas, like the Southeast. More than just a foliage plant, privet will also flower with white blooms in late spring to early summer.

Q: Can privet survive winter?
A: Privet is a semi-evergreen or evergreen shrub depending on the cultivar. This shrub is hardy down to USDA zone 3 and overwinters easily in most climates. Privets need little maintenance during the winter as they prepare for new growth in the spring.

Q: Is privet an invasive species?
A: Invasiveness. Privet is a successful invasive species because of its ability to outcompete and therefore displace native vegetation. This competitive superiority to native vegetation is connected with the plant’s ability to adapt to different light conditions.

Q: Why is privet a problem?
A: It crowds out native species – As an invasive plant, Chinese privet crowds out native plants that provide wildlife with food and shelter, taking over the ground canopy and slowly eroding environmental health. It grows early and fast, spreading quickly in an area, taking up space and casting shade below it.

Q: How do you stop privet from spreading?
A: Privet can be effectively controlled with foliar, cut stump, and basal bark herbicide treatments. Always read and follow the herbicide label, paying attention to site and rate restrictions and safety recommendations for applicators.

Q: How do I get rid of privet in my yard?
A: Don’t purchase or plant Chinese Privet in the landscape.Chop existing bushes in spring. … Paint with a systemic after chopping.Apply a foliar spray with 41 percent glyphosate or triclopyr mixed with oil, allow ten days. … Mow shoots that persist after plant is removed.

Q: Is privet good for anything?
A: It ignores drought and heat and it is easily trimmed into a hedge anything from 4 to 12 feet tall. It makes a great screen, and the honey-scented blossoms attract butterflies and are a valuable food source for them.

Q: Is privet toxic to dogs?
A: Toxicity to pets All parts of these shrubs and small trees contain oleanolic acid. When ingested, this plant can affect the gastrointestinal system, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea and refusal of food. Large ingestions have caused coordination issues, increased heart and respiratory rates and death.

Q: Is privet a pest?
A: Privet is a highly invasive pest plant. Both species rapidly colonise waste areas or stands of trees and will displace other plants in regenerating native communities. The pollen and scent from privet may also contribute to allergies such as hay fever and asthma although this has not been clinically proven.

Q: Does privet attract bees?
A: Privet is a popular shrub that produces clusters of small white flowers that are highly desirable to honey bees. Most varieties of privet are evergreen, drought tolerant once established, and grow quickly making them an ideal shrub to use in hedges as a fence alternative.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.