Ligustrum ovalifolium

Ligustrum ovalifolium, also known as Korean privet,[1] California privet, garden privet,[2] and oval-leaved privet, is a species of flowering plant in the olive family Oleaceae.[3] The species is native to Japan and Korea.[3]

Ligustrum ovalifolium
Ligustrum ovalifolium.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Genus: Ligustrum
L. ovalifolium
Binomial name
Ligustrum ovalifolium


Ligustrum ovalifolium is a dense, fast-growing, deciduous (evergreen/semi-evergreen in warm winter areas) shrub or small tree. It grows to 10–15 feet (3.0–4.6 m) tall and wide.[4] Its thick, fleshy leaf is green on the top, and greenish-yellow on the underside.[3]

It flowers in midsummer, the abundant white blooms producing a unique pungent fragrance, unpleasant to some.[3] They are borne in panicles. They have four curled-back petals and two high stamens with yellow or red anthers, between which is the low pistil; the petals and stamens fall off after the flower is fertilized, leaving the pistil in the calyx tube. Flowering starts after 330 growing degree days.[citation needed]

The fruits, borne in clusters, are small purple to black drupes, poisonous for humans but readily eaten by many birds.[3] In favorable growing conditions, individual shrubs may produce thousands of fruits.[5]


Ligustrum ovalifolium is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including common emerald, common marbled carpet, copper underwing, the engrailed, mottled beauty, scalloped hazel, small angle shades, the V-pug and willow beauty.[4]

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested by humans.[6]


The species is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in many countries, as a shrub, and grouped for an informal or formal hedge.[4][3] Privets need to be trimmed several times during a growing season, in order to maintain a formal hedge shape. Regularly trimmed plants do not produce flowers or fruit.

Ligustrum ovalifolium is the most common hedging plant species in cultivation in the United Kingdom.[7][8]

Several cultivars are used in gardens and for hedging, including Ligustrum ovalifolium 'Aureum', the golden privet, with oval, rich yellow leaves with green centers.[9] In the UK it has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[10][11] With Ligustrum obtusifolium it is a parent of the hybrid Ligustrum × ibolium.[12]

Ligustrum ovalifolium 'Vicaryi', a yellow-leaved shrub, was once thought to be a hybrid between L. ovalifolium 'Aureum' and Ligustrum vulgare, for which the name Ligustrum × vicaryi was published. Studies of both chloroplast and nuclear DNA showed that L. vulgare was not involved in its parentage, both of its parents being L. ovalifolium. Accordingly, it was given a cultivar name. Its year-round yellow leaves and white flowers in midsummer make it an attractive hedging plant or ornamental shrub.[13]

Naturalized—invasive speciesEdit

The species is reportedly naturalized in France, Spain, Italy, the Balearic Islands, Saint Helena, Réunion, Chiapas (México), Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, the Juan Fernandez Islands, Ontario, and in the United States.[14][15]

Ligustrum ovalifolium has also been listed as an invasive species in areas of the United States, including: California, Hawaii, Washington state, Texas, Missouri, Alabama, and many of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states.[16][17][18] 46 states have it listed on their noxious weed lists.[19]


Ligustrum means "binder". It was named by Pliny and Virgil.[20] The Latin specific epithet ovalifolium means "oval-leaved".[21]


  1. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 518. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.
  2. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bellarmine University: Ligustrum ovalifolium (California Privet)
  4. ^ a b c Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder: Ligustrum ovalifolium (California privet)
  5. ^ Hasskarl, Justus Carl. 1844. Catalogus Plantarum in Horto Botanico Bogoriensi Cultarum Alter 119.
  6. ^ PlantFiles: Ligustrum ovalifolium
  7. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  8. ^ Agate, Elizabeth (1998). Hedging: a practical handbook. British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. p. 125. ISBN 0946752176.
  9. ^ PlantFiles: Detailed information on Golden Privet—Ligustrum ovalifolium 'Aureum'
  10. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Ligustrum ovalifolium 'Aureum'". Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  11. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 60. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Ligustrum × ibolium". Plant Finder. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  13. ^ Edwards, Dawn (2016). "The origin of Ligustrum × vicaryi". The Plantsman. New Series. 15 (3): 160–161.
  14. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Ligustrum ovalifolium
  15. ^ Biota of North America Program, Ligustrum ovalifolium
  16. ^ Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States: Ligustrum ovalifolium (California privet)
  17. ^ Swearingen, Jil; Reshetiloff, K.; Slattery, B; Zwicker, S. (2010). Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas, 4th Edition (PDF). National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. p. 71.
  18. ^ CalFlora Database: Ligustrum ovalifolium
  19. ^ USDA: U.S. Weed Information for Ligustrum ovalifolium (California privet)
  20. ^ Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). p 237
  21. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for Gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 978-1845337315.

External linksEdit