Privets in the sanctuary, oh my!

We had six Master Naturalists working out in the Heard Sanctuary today, pulling up about 600-700 linear feet of barbed wire in the sanctuary. It was actually more fun than it might sound, since the weather was good, the company of other Master Naturalists is always great, and we got to see some interesting plants, insects, and fungi. We did get into a spirited (but not heated) discussion of the various types of privet growing out there. Parviz has been working hard on getting all the privets out of the sanctuary, but today we were working in a section that he hasn’t yet reached, so we had several samples under discussion. I felt pretty confident about Chinese Privet and Quihoui Privet, except how to pronounce Quihoui (kwee-WHO-ee, according to today’s research.)

EDIT: after some discussion (see comments section below,) I’ve settled on KYOO-ee as the pronunciation I’m going to try to stick with. (But I won’t argue if you want to say it some other way!)
Some people were calling one large specimen Japanese Privet, though, and I’d have called it Glossy Privet. None of them knew the scientific name, so I couldn’t figure out if it was a different species or just a different common name. I’ve been calling all the large-leaved privets I’ve seen Ligustrum lucidum (Glossy Privet), but there is a L. japonicum, so if we had it in the sanctuary, I wanted to know. (Most everyone elsewas of the opinion that, no matter what we called it, it needed to come out, so what did it matter? But inquiring minds need to know!) After an hour or so in my FNCT, here’s what I’ve come up

All of the privets growing here are introduced invasives which have escaped from cultivation. They are shrubs or small trees, evergreen or semi-deciduous, and have opposite leaves. (The opposite leaf attachment is the first thing to check for if you suspect privet. See more about oppositely-attached leaves below.*)

Two common types of privet have glabrous twigs and large leaf blades, 2.5-6" long. These are both evergreen.
• The first of these is Glossy Privet, Ligustrum lucidum. It can grow to be a tree up to 30 ft. tall, or occasionally taller. Glossy Privet leaves are large, 3-6" long, with 6-8 or more distinct veins on each side of the midrib. The leaves are glossy and hairless. Glossy Privet leaves taper to a narrow point and the petiole (stalk) of the larger leaves is up to 3/4" long. In the flowers, the tube of the corolla equals the lobes in length.

• The second of the large-leaf privets is Japanese Privet, L. japonicum. It is a smaller shrub or small tree, usually not much more than 10 ft. tall. The leaf is somewhat smaller than that of Glossy Privet, up to about 2.5 -4" long. Leaves have only about 4-5 indistinct veins on each side of the midrib. The leaf shape is less pointed than that of L. lucidum, and it has a shorter petiole, usually less than 1/2" long. (*New note: according to texasinvasives.org: Japanese Privet does not tend to escape cultivation, so maybe I haven't been wrong in calling the wild specimens of large-leaved privets I've seen Glossy Privet.)

Two other common types of privet have pubescent (fuzzy/hairy) twigs and small leaves. These are semi-deciduous, evergreen in mild winters.
• The most widespread invader is Chinese Privet, Ligustrum sinense . It is a shrub growing to about 12 ft. tall. Its leaves are 1 - 2.5" long and usually hairy along the midrib on the underside. The leaf shape is a rounded diamond or an egg shape. The flowers are in compact clusters, with the corolla tube shorter than the lobes.

• The other small-leaf privet is Quihou Privet, L. quihoui. The leaves are 1 - 2.5" long, dark green, usually oblanceolate (teardrop shaped, narrowest near the stem) and hairless on the underside. The leaf base tapers all the way to the twig, appearing to have almost no petiole. Flowers are in whorl-like, separated clusters at tips of branches and on paired side branchlets, forming into loose clusters. The corolla tube is about equal to the lobes.

After I finished the above, I happened to find a couple of handy guides to the privets at Texasinvasives.org. So I guess I could have saved myself the trouble, but I don't think I'll ever again get mixed up about these four privets! Each of these is a one page pdf: the first has pictures, the second a chart with more information.

https://www.texasinvasives.org/invaders/CS_Resources/PrivetKey.pdf
https://www.texasinvasives.org/invaders/Trainer_Resources/Ligustrum.pdf

*Privets are one of the few trees/shrubs around here (North Central TX) that have oppositely-attached leaves. Here's the acronym we use for remembering the most common woody plants with oppositely-attached leaves:
DAMPeR:
D - dogwood (in North Central TX, that would be Roughleaf dogwood.)
A - Ashes (around here, Green Ash, White Ash, Texas Ash)
M - Maple (around here, only Ash-leaved Maple, aka Boxelder Maple, or just Boxelder)
P - Privets
R - Rusty Blackhaw

Ashes and Boxelder both have compound leaves, so those should be easy to rule out. Rusty Blackhaw leaves have toothed margins, and privets have smooth margins, so that should be easy to rule out, too. Roughleaf dogwood does have smooth margins and simple, oppositely-attached leaves, like the privets. Dogwood leaves are thinner, and ours have a rough texture - hence the name!

Two other plants whose leaves resemble privets in shape and texture are the hollies: possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua) and yaupon holly (I. vomitoria). Just remember to check for the leaf attachment. Hollies have alternately attached leaves, rather than the oppositely-attached leaves of privets.


BACK TO: A Collection of Helpful Identification Guides

Posted by lisa281 lisa281, February 02, 2019 23:08

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Chinese Privet Ligustrum sinense

Observer

lisa281

Date

September 12, 2019 10:43 AM CDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Tree Privet Ligustrum lucidum

Observer

lisa281

Date

September 12, 2019 10:59 AM CDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Chinese Privet Ligustrum sinense

Observer

lisa281

Date

September 14, 2019 01:52 PM CDT

Comments

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Thanks for using your journal. I wish more people would. I will add these links to my journal page for Town Creek riparian repair local volunteers, so thanks for reminding me of the availability of this information. Mainly what I found is to make sure you differentiate Ligustrum from our native Possumhaw, lex decidua (not to be confused with yaupon holly, which to date has not been observed in Blanco County on iNat). I would recommend you add observations to your journal which you probably already have uploaded for these species. I always enjoy seeing other participants' photographs.

Posted by billarbon over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Thanks, @billarbon! Good point - I’m just assuming that people have already figured out that it’s privet, and just need to figure out which one. I'll go back and add a first step: make sure you actually do have a privet. And I’ll link some pics too.

Posted by lisa281 over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Cool. Thanks.

Posted by billarbon over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Thanks, @lisa281! The Texas Invasives keys are not that helpful. I am not sure L. vulgare occurs in Texas at all. You will find a few instances in their database where I thought I had found it, but while using their keys I had misidentified L. quihoui. (It doesn't help that the photos are not labeled.)

As you implied, you don't have to worry about seeing L. japonicum in the wild in any significant numbers. All of the ones I identified grew up to become L. lucidum. ;-)

Interesting that Texas Invasives now acknowledges that L. japonicum rarely if ever escapes cultivation. Last I checked, 90 percent of the plants identified as L. japonicum in the Texas Invasives database are something else (75 percent are L. lucidum), and most that actually are L. japonicum were planted by humans. Fewer than 5 might have grown from seed. Not 5 percent—five. Maybe they made some corrections after I brought that to their attention.

You might also be interested in my project, Invasive Plants and Their Native Lookalikes. In my identifications for that project, I added details that explain how those photos illustrate the distinguishing differences of each species.

Thanks, too, for your collection of helpful journal posts. That's cool to have on hand.

Posted by baldeagle over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Thanks, Cliff! I did add a link to your Soapberry vs. Pistache comment - very helpful!

Posted by lisa281 over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Thanks!

By the way, I don't agree with the notion that "Quihoui" should be pronounced "kwee-WHO-ee." The privet is named for the French botanist Antoine Quihou. Unless you order "kweesh lo-RAIN" at the café, you would probably agree that the first syllable should be "kee." Now, as to where the accent goes, I assume that would be wherever it belongs in M. Quihou's name. On that point I will defer to anyone who has actually taken a class in French or who speaks it as their native language, but my guess would be the first, not the second syllable. Also, it seems likely to me that the "h" would be just touched upon, not fully enunciated, much as any good Houstonian pronounces the name of their fair city.

So I would argue that, regardless of how people have been pronouncing it, they should be pronouncing it either "KEE-oo-ee" (my first guess) or "kee-OO-ee" (my second).

Also, just as we use the common name "Buckley's oak," not "Buckleyi oak," we really should be using "Quihou's privet," not "Quihoui privet," for the common name of this species. Monsieur Quihou would probably be grateful.

Posted by baldeagle over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Lisa, this is very helpful. I had done my own novice study from other sources and came up with some wrong information. That was aggravating. But now I have a new set of field marks for making sense of these common invasives.

Posted by jsuplick over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Jean - I’m just happy I don’t have to worry about telling Japanese from Glossy!
@baldeagle - I’ve been pronouncing “Quihoui“ using the quick mumble-slur technique, emphasizing “privet,” but I like your guidance! I got a recorded pronunciation (male, native French speaker) of M. Quihou's name: https://forvo.com/word/quihou/
To my Texas ears, it sounds sorta like “cue” and with my Texas accent, it comes out exactly like the letter “Q” - so I think I’m going to try to stick with KYOO-ee. That’s easy, and “close enough for government work,” as my mom would say! : )

Posted by lisa281 over 1 year ago (Flag)
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@lisa281, listen again. It sounds almost exactly as I suspected. There is an -EE- between the “k-“ and the -oo-. The accent is entirely on the KEE- with an unstressed -oo. In the transition from -EE to -oo there is just the slightest touch of a “y,” but no moreso than is unavoidable. Add the -ee for the terminal “i” and a slight “w” comes in with it: KEE-oo-ee or KEE-yoo-ee, but definitely not KYOO-ee.

And, as we now agree, definitely not any stressed variant of kee-hoo-wee. No discernible “h-“ at all.

Thanks for finding the pronunciation site. That’s cool!

Posted by baldeagle over 1 year ago (Flag)
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@lisa281 and @baldeagle I used that site a few years ago when I was writing a paper on my Polish immigrant ancestors. Interesting language, that, but their alphabet doesn't even translate. Anyhow, I found forvo to be exceptional in helping me with pronunciations.

Posted by jsuplick over 1 year ago (Flag)
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By the way, Lisa, I will be teaching my girdling technique at the Heard Sanctuary for the May 16 meeting of the Blackland Prairie Master Naturalists. I will do a brief presentation inside, and then we will go out to the sanctuary to do something about those privets as the workshop portion of the training. I hope to see you there, along with anyone else who would like to know what they can do about infestations of privets. (The meeting and workshop are open to the public, and there is no charge to attend.)

Posted by baldeagle over 1 year ago (Flag)

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