Chinese Privet

Ligustrum sinense

Summary 7

Ligustrum sinense (Chinese Privet; syn. L. villosum), in Mandarin; 杻 (pinyin: chǒu) is a species of privet, native to China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Ecological threat in the united states 8

Privets form dense thickets that shade out and take the place of native shrubs and herbaceous plants. The shady thickets make conditions unsuitable for native seedlings. Phenolic compounds in the leaves protect plants from leaf-feeding insects which include native herbivorous species.

Distribution and habitat in the united states 9

All four privet species featured here have been reported to be invasive in the mid-Atlantic region; some are recognized as invasive elsewhere in the eastern U.S. and nationwide. They thrive in floodplains, fields, disturbed forests and forest edges.

Control 10

It is recommended that you contact your local agricultural extension specialist and/or county weed specialist for control measures pertinent to your area.

Various control measures have been reported for Chinese privet. For small areas and for relatively small plants, hand removal is effective. Digging tools such as a mattock are useful for removing underground parts. Broken root fragments need to be removed because of their ability to re-sprout. Repeated mowing and cutting will control the spread of privet, but will not eradicate it. For such treatment, stems should be cut as close to the ground as possible (Bartlow et al. 1997). Mechanical removal is especially effective in the early stages of an invasion when the numbers of plants are relatively small.

For larger natural areas where the use of chemical herbicides is inadvisable, enlisting numerous helpers to mechanically remove Chinese privet may be required. Using heavy equipment for large-scale removal may be appropriate in some locations, but the negative effects of soil disturbance and the potential for erosion need to be considered.

Herbicide treatments properly applied can selectively remove invasive species with minimal soil disturbance. Even slight soil disturbance may offer opportunities for re-invasion. When considering chemical control, local laws affecting herbicide use must be observed. Appropriate precautions in various habitats may be needed. Kline & Duquesnel (1996) point out that not all herbicides are appropriate for all areas. Some may damage non-target species. Herbicides will behave differently in different environments and under different conditions (Neal et al. 1986). For example, they may degrade more slowly in wetter, more anaerobic soils or move downward in sandier soils. A careful monitoring program is essential for evaluating herbicide use.

Randall & Marinelli (1996) report effective control of Chinese privet with glyphosate herbicides stating that foliage treatment is best for actively growing plants. Foliar spray methods should be used only where risk to non-target species is minimal. A 2% solution of glyphosate or 2% triclopyr with a one-half percent of non-ionic surfactant is reportedly effective for treating Chinese privet (Bartlow et al. 1997).

Kline & Duquesnel (1996) discuss various treatments for woody species including Brazilian pepper, Australian pine, Chinese tallow, and other tree-like species. They note that within mixed stands single stem treatments consisting of basal-bark treatments, cut-surface treatments (injection, cut-stump, or girdle), or direct foliar applications may be effective. A typical basal or cut-surface treatment consists of a 10-50% mixture of one of the following types of herbicides (glyphosate, hexazinone, imazapyr, or triclopyr) with an oil dilutant. They provide a table for use as a guide for selecting application methods and herbicides for various invasive plant species.

Brian Bowen, President of the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council, reports success in controlling privet using 25% glyphosate/75% horticulture oil applied as a cut-surface treatment (personal communication, 1997). He advises against using this application as the plants break dormancy because upward movement of the sap reduces the treatment’s effectiveness. The same herbicide preparation is effective when applied to cut stumps as long as the ground isn’t frozen (Bartlow et al. 1997). For the basal bark method, applying a mixture of 25% triclopyr/75% horticultural oil to the basal parts of the shrub is reported (Bartlow et al. 1997). W. N. Kline, Senior Scientist, Dow Elanco, Duluth, Georgia, also favors basal-bark or cut-surface treatment over foliar application (pers. comm. 1997). The latter causes such rapid leaf drop that translocation of the herbicide in the plants is reduced, thereby lowering its effectiveness. Furthermore, he reports that disturbance (e.g., fire or mechanical) should be avoided for about one year following basal-bark or cut-surface treatments to allow translocation of herbicides. Disturbance of the plants or root system too soon after treatment may disrupt translocation and result in resprouting.

Fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon that is essential for certain native plant communities to exist. Its use in exotic pest plant control is being investigated. Faulkner et al. (1989) reported its effectiveness as a management tool in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park for controlling Ligustrum sinense and other pest plants. Fire had the benefit of killing large privet stems, but the vigorous resprouting that followed burning offset this gain. Fall and winter burns had desirable aesthetic effects by considerably reducing the biomass of privet, but no long-term benefits were achieved since the species still remained.

Fire was also used as a herbicide pretreatment (Faulkner et al. 1989). In the spring following the fall and winter burns, foliar application of glyphosate damaged or killed a majority of the Chinese privet shoots. Burning facilitated foliar application of herbicide by reducing biomass. However, it did not increase the effectiveness of the herbicide compared to the unburned controls.

Privet has no known biological controls. A foliage-feeding insect native to Europe, Macrophya punctumalbum, is a known pest. Privet is also susceptible to a fungal leaf spot, Pseudocercospora ligustri, and a common root crown bacteria, Agrobacterium tume-faciens (Bartlow et al. 1997).

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Doug Beckers, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  2. (c) Kai Yan, Joseph Wong, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  3. (c) Jon Sullivan, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  4. (c) Kai Yan, Joseph Wong, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  5. (c) 2005 Luigi Rignanese, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  6. (c) peter-hasik, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)
  7. Adapted by Kate Wagner from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  8. (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  9. (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  10. Public Domain,

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