Privet (Ligustrum spp.) is a woody shrub or small tree within the olive family (Oleaceae) that has aggressively colonized open areas within the US, and were widely planted in Davis in the 1960's and 70's, much to the detestation of many current residents who have the unfortunate luck of stepping on their berries while barefoot. Plants within this genus are mostly native to Asian lands with a few species originating from Malaysia, Australia, Europe and North Africa.
Leaves on this invasive evergreen are simple and opposite while the plant produces huge panicles of fragrant creamy white flowers that develop into equally large clusters of small blue-black fruits. Both the leaves and berries are poisonous to people and animals, and the plant's pollen can cause breathing problems for some people. Birds eat the berries and spread seeds. Seeds falling from clusters sprout quickly beneath the plant. Extremely prolific and fast growing, privet can invade the edges of forest and waste land, and displace trees in our native forests. Privet tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions, for example, dry, cold and wet conditions, and grows anywhere from fifteen- to thirty-feet tall.
Privet can be controlled either by physical disruption or through the use of herbicides. Physical disruption simply means pulling up seedlings, pruning to prevent flowering, overplanting to suppress germination of seedlings, and stump removal. Stump removal should include herbicidal treatment of any remaining stumps.
For more species of trees and shrubs, see Town Flora.