Common privet

Common privet

Ligustrum vulgare (Oleaceae)

Common Name:

Common privet

Scientific Name:

Ligustrum vulgare (Oleaceae)

Alternative common names:

Gewone liguster (Afrikaans)


A deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub 3-6m high. Mid to dark green leaves, sometimes variegated, or yellow. Shoots minutely downy and leaves are smooth. Heavily scented white flowers appear in terminal clusters from October to February, followed by tiny black berries. The leaves and fruits are poisonous.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Europe including the Mediterranean region.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1 NEMBA - Category 1 b 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. Indigenous birds could 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 growing 3-6m high with dense, glossy foliage.
Leaves: Mid to dark green leaves.
Flowers: Heavily scented white flowers in terminal clusters appear from October to February.
Fruit/seeds: Shiny black berries in clusters.

Does the plant have any uses?

Garden ornament and hedging. Birds eat the fruits.

Leave a Reply