Ligustrum obtusifolium Siebold & Zucc.

Border Privet


CC = *
CW = 5
MOC = 17

© SRTurner

Family - Oleaceae

Habit - Shrub to 2 m tall.

Stem - Main stems numerous, arched, with spreading branches. Twigs moderately to densely pubescent with minute, spreading hairs, the new growth grayish green, becoming dark gray with lighter colored lenticels. Winter buds with the scales tawny, short-hairy.

Ligustrum_obtusifolium_stem.jpg Stem.

© SRTurner

Ligustrum_obtusifolium_twigs.jpg Twigs.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Opposite, sometimes subopposite, simple, short-petiolate. Petioles 1-3 mm long, glabrous or short-hairy, narrowly winged. Leaf blades 2-6 cm long, 7-25 mm wide, relatively thin and herbaceous, elliptic to oblong-ovate, rounded to bluntly or broadly angled at the tip, the upper surface glabrous, not shiny, the undersurface short-hairy, at least along the midvein, minutely but faintly gland-dotted.

Ligustrum_obtusifolium_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Ligustrum_obtusifolium_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescences - Panicles or racemes at branch tips, spreading to nodding, relatively slender, 1.5-4.0 cm long.

Ligustrum_obtusifolium_inflorescences.jpg Inflorescences.

© SRTurner

Ligustrum_obtusifolium_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Calyces with 4 very shallow, irregular lobes, moderately to densely short-hairy. Corollas 6-10 mm long, 4-lobed, trumpet-shaped, the tube slightly longer than to about 3 times as long as the lobes, white. Stamens not exserted. Style 1-2 mm long.

Ligustrum_obtusifolium_calyces.jpg Calyces.

© SRTurner

Ligustrum_obtusifolium_flowers.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Berrylike drupes, 5-8 mm long, globose to broadly ellipsoid, green to olive green, turning bluish black or black, glabrous, sometimes slightly glaucous.

Flowering - May - June.

Habitat - Forests, glades, stream banks, old fields, ditches, roadsides, disturbed areas.

Origin - Native to Asia

Lookalikes - Other species of Ligustrum.

Other info. - Border privet was first reported from Missouri in 1991. It has been spreading rapidly since then and is now understood to be an invasive species in our region. At Shaw Nature Reserve, for example, it has become a problem rivaling bush honeysuckle in severity. A number of different privets have been cultivated in Missouri to serve as hedgerows, and these species can be difficult to differentiate. All privets are introduced in our area, and it would be wise to avoid their use until their growth habits are better understood.

The flowers of Ligustrum are aromatic. Methylamine contributes to the scent, which is fishy and unpleasant. This can taint the honey produced by bees which frequent the plants. There are reports that Ligustrum is toxic to humans and livestock, though the level of toxicity is disputed. Symptoms of poisoning are mainly gastrointestinal, but may also include paralysis of the limbs, pulmonary edema, and rarely death.

Photographs taken at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 5-21-2015 (SRTurner).