Chinese privet
Oleaceae - Ligustrum sinense

What does it look like?

Chinese privet is a shrub or small tree that grows to 5+m tall.  It is evergreen or semi-deciduous with distinctive warty lumps on stems and densely hairy shoots.  Oval, dull green leaves (25-60 x 12-25mm) occasionally have wavy edges.  Loose drooping clusters (up to 10cm long) of small, tubular and very fragrant white flowers appear from July to March, followed by round, green berries that mature to dull purplish-black.

Why is it a problem?

While Chinese privet inhabits forest margins, heavily disturbed bush, shrublands, open stream and alluvial river systems, fernland, rocklands, cliffs, coastal and estuarine areas, and inshore islands.

Privet produces many highly-viable seeds in widely-dispersed berries.  It is very dominant, spreading dense carpets of seedlings that displace native shrubs and prevent native plant regeneration.  Privet is very tolerant of shade, frost, damage, grazing, all well-drained soil types, high to moderate temperatures, damp or drought conditions, salt and wind.  Chinese privet is short-lived but constantly replaced.

Control Methods

Physical control

  • Pull or dig seedlings (all year round). Leave on site to rot down.


  • Cut low and treat stump immediately (all year round) with: 250ml glyphosate (360g/l) per 1L water or 5g metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg) per 1L water.
  • Drill and fill (all year round): Using a 10-12mm drill bit, drill one downward sloping hole every 200mm around the base of the trunk and fill with undiluted glyphosate or 20g metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg) per 1L water. Extra safety precautions must be taken if using undiluted herbicides.
  • Frilling: With a sharp chisel or axe, make a deep cut into the sapwood at regular intervals around the base of the tree, taking care not to ring-bark the plant. Immediately saturate the cuts with 250ml glyphosate per 1L water or 5g metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg) per 1L water.
  • Spray (spring-autumn): 5g metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg) + 10ml penetrant per 10L water or 100ml glyphosate (360g/l) + 10ml penetrant per 10L of water.

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide, PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

More Information

Biocontrol has been released for this pest plant.