common privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
Ligustrum insulare Decne.
Ligustrum insulense Decne.
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of common
privet is Ligustrum vulgare L.
NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Common privet
is a semi-evergreen to evergreen, thicket-forming shrub that grows to
30 feet (9 m) in height and is multiple stemmed and leaning-to-arching
with long leafy branches. The stem is opposite or whorled, with long
slender branching that increases upward with twigs projecting outward
at near right angles. Twigs brownish gray turning gray green and short
hairy (rusty or grayish) with light dots (lenticels). Leaf scars semicircular
with one bundle scar. Bark brownish gray to gray and slightly rough (not
fissured). The leaves are opposite in two rows at near right angle to stem,
ovate to elliptic with rounded tip (often minutely indented), 0.8 to 1.6
inches (2 to 4 cm) long and 0.4 to 1.2 inches (1 to 3 cm) wide. The margins
are entire; the leaves are lustrous green above and pale green with hairy
midvein beneath (European privet not hairy beneath). Petioles 0.04 to 0.2
inch (1 to 5 mm) long, rusty hairy. Leaves usually persistent during winter.
Flowers are abundant, terminal and found in upper axillary clusters on
short branches forming panicles of white flowers. Corolla four-lobed, tube
0.06 to 0.1 inch (1.5 to 2 mm) long and equal or shorter than the lobes,
with stamens extending from the corolla on Chinese privet and within the
corolla on European privet. The flowers are fragrant. Fruit and seeds from
July to March. Dense ovoid drupes hanging or projecting outward, 0.2 to
0.3 inch (6 to 8 mm) long and 0.16 inch (4 mm) wide, containing one to
four seeds. Pale green in summer ripening to dark purple a nd appe aring
almost black in late fall to winter.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Common privet propogates itself by
reseeding and by vegetative reproduction. It colonizes by root sprouts
and is spreads widely by abundant bird- and other animal-dispersed seeds.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Common privet prefers light (sandy),
medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils but can grow in
very alkaline soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no
shade.It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.The plant
can tolerate maritime exposure and will also tolerate atmospheric pollution.
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Common privet is an aggressive and
troublesome invasive, often forming dense thickets, particularly in
bottom-land forests and along fencerows, gaining access to forests,
fields, and right-of-ways. Because it is shade tolerant, it is not only as
a successful initial and mid- successional shrub, but once established,
it can sustain productive growth in more mature successional stages.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Common privet flowers from April
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Introduced from Europe in the early to
mid-1800s. It is most represented in the eastern states of the United
States, but is found in highly diffused and disjunctive locations throughout
the rest of the United States. In general it is spreading east to west,
although it is highly localized, being present in some locations, but not
represted at all in others.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:
Shrub specimens can be found on trails marked in red.
Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
South Ridge/North Ridge
Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
The specific distribution for common privet has not been determined.
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: Common privet is
an aggressive and troublesome invasive, often forming dense thickets, par-
ticularly in bottom-land forests and along fencerows, thus gaining access
to forests, fields, and right-of-ways. Often planted as an ornamental, com-
mon privet escapes to thickets, open woods, roadsides, and borders of
woodlands. Because it is shade tolerant, it can sustain itself in mid- to
mature forest situations. The potential for large-scale restoration of un-
managed natural areas or wildlands infested with Ligustrum spp. is prob-
ably low. Restoration potential for managed natural areas or wildlands
infested Ligustrum spp. is probably moderate. If attacked during the
early stages of colonization, the potential for successful management is high.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Common privet is a source of food for honey
bees and is known to attract several varieties of butterflies.With its ten-
dency to form thick thickets, it offers good cover to a wide variety of birds
and small mammals.
Common privet has been used in medicine and pharmacological research;
it has also been used as a dye.
Common privet is valued as an ornamental, often appearing in gardens,
hedges, screen or background plantings and is commonly used as a shrub
Crooked Run Valley