The Chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense, is a plant that is well known to many people as a great nuisance in the landscape. It is also a Florida noxious weed because of its invasive nature.
Originally grown as an ornamental that formed a hedge and tolerated poor conditions, the Chinese privet has now spread to natural areas and grows easily on disturbed soils. Plants are full of white fragrant flowers in the spring with abundant small black fruit forming late summer and remaining into the winter. Seeds are easily spread by wildlife to new areas but new plants can also grow from roots.
Chinese privet easily forms a thicket, shading areas and impacting the growth of native plants. Homeowners can identify any plants growing on their property and work to manage Chinese privet when plants are not in seed. If you need assistance in identification, contact your local Extension office or view pictures online.
Even though homeowners will not find Ligustrum sinense in the nursery, cultivars of this plant may be found. One newer selection is ‘Sunshine’. This is a reportedly sterile cultivar that grows much smaller and has yellow foliage. Homeowners who choose to install ‘Sunshine’ may still need to be cautious since there has not been extensive research in Florida to verify that it will not become a future issue.