Californian privet

Californian privet

Ligustrum ovalifolium (Oleaceae)

Common Name:

Californian privet

Scientific Name:

Ligustrum ovalifolium (Oleaceae)

Alternative common names:

Kaliforniese liguster (Afrikaans)


Deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub 3-6m high. Mid to dark green leaves, sometimes variegated, or yellow. The shoots and leaves are smooth and white, heavily scented flowers appear in terminal clusters from October to February followed by tiny black berries. The leaves and fruit are poisonous to humans and certain animals.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Asia (Japan).

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1 NEMBA - Category 1b in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Eastern and Western Cape, Gauteng and North West, 3 in Free State and Northern Cape.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Gauteng Provinces.

How does it spread?

Seed dispersal.

Why is it a problem?

Competes with and has the potential to replace indigenous species. Poisonous. Birds might neglect the dispersal of indigenous plants as a consequence of their preference for the fruits of this alien species.

What does it look like?

General description: A deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub or small tree growing 3-6m high.
Leaves: Mid to dark green leaves.
Flowers: Heavily scented white flowers appear in terminal clusters from October to February.
Fruit/seeds: Shiny small black berries appearing in clusters.

Does the plant have any uses?

Ornament and hedging. Birds eat the fruits.

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