Japanese wax-leaved privet

Japanese wax-leaved privet

Ligustrum japonicum (Oleaceae)

Common Name:

Japanese wax-leaved privet

Scientific Name:

Ligustrum japonicum (Oleaceae)

Alternative common names:

Glossy privet; Nepal privet; white wax tree (English); Japanse ligusters (Afrikaans)


An evergreen shrub or small tree 3-6m high. Dark, almost black-green, thick, leathery, glossy leaves sometimes variegated in green and yellow. Heavily, scented white flowers appear in large terminal clusters from October to February followed by shiny black berries. The leaves and fruits are poisonous even though birds eat the fruits.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Asia (Korea and Japan).

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1 Proposed legislation: 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?

Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga 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: An evergreen tree or large shrub with dense green leaves and branches often rising straight up vertically.
Leaves: Dark, almost black-green, thick, leathery, glossy leaves.
Flowers: Heavily, scented white flowers in large terminal clusters from October to February.
Fruit/seeds: Shiny black berries.

Does the plant have any uses?

Garden ornament and hedging.

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