Small leaf privet (Ligustrum sinense)
Small leaf privet is native to Asia. This plant was commonly used as a hedge plant in the past but causes allergies in humans, and has become invasive in native bushland, and neglected gardens and wastelands. Small leaf privet is considered to be serious environmental weed throughout Australia. Infestations threaten biodiversity, including endangered plant and animal species and ecological communities. Dense stands of privet prevent other vegetation surviving or establishing.
Small leaf privet is a shrub or small tree that has green leaves up to 7cm long, usually with wavy margins. Privet flowers in spring. Its flowers are small, white and strongly scented in large sprays on the ends of, or along, the branches. Flowers are followed by blue/black berries which are attractive to birds.
Dispersal: This species reproduces by seed and root suckers, and it also re-sprouts after its stems are deliberately cut or otherwise damaged. Its seeds are readily dispersed by fruit-eating birds and other animals. They may also be spread by water or in dumped garden waste.
Privet is unlikely to be sold in nurseries but may be available at fetes or markets. Do not plant it, and if it is already present in your garden please remove it so it doesn’t get a chance to spread further. You may find privet seedlings coming up regularly in your garden under any trees.
Removal: Remove young plants by hand. This is best done when the soil is moist to ensure you do not break off or leave any of the root system in the ground. For plants that cannot be pulled out, carefully dig out the plant, removing as much of the root system as possible. Large plants may need chemical treatment.
Grow Me Instead
Grevillea biternata – A grevillea from WA with a massed display of creamy white flowers.
Leptospermum ‘Cardwell’ - Gracefully weeping aromatic evergreen foliage, covered in white
flowers late winter to spring.