The Bugwood Network

Japanese / Glossy Privet
Ligustrum japonicum Thunb./L. lucidum Ait. f.

International Code - LIJA/LILU2
FIA survey code - 2104


Miller, James H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 p.

acrobat version

Plant. Evergreen to 20 feet (6 m) in height for Japanese privet and 35 feet (10 m) in height for glossy privet, with spreading crowns, thick opposite leaves, conical clusters of white flowers in spring, and green to purple-black fruit in summer and winter.

Stem. Twigs hairless and pale green becoming brownish to reddish tinged. Branches opposite and brownish gray with many raised corky dots (lenticels). Bark light gray and smooth except for scattered horizontal, discontinuous ridges.

Leaves. Opposite, leathery, ovate to oblong, bases rounded and tips blunt or tapering often with a tiny sharp tip. Two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) long and 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) wide. Margins entire and often yellowish rimmed and turned upward with glossy privet and slightly rolled under with Japanese privet. Upper blades lustrous dark green with 6 to 8 pairs of light-green veins with glossy privet and 4 to 6 pairs of indistinct veins with Japanese privet that protrude slightly from light green lower surfaces. Petioles 0.4 to 0.8 inch (1 to 2 cm) long for glossy privet and 0.2 to 0.4 inch (6 to 12 mm) long for Japanese privet, light green and glossy privet sometimes reddish tinged.

Flowers. April to June. Loosely branching, terminal- and upper-axillary, conical clusters of many small white four-petaled flowers. Fragrant.

Fruit and seeds. July to February. Conical-shaped, branched terminal clusters of ovoid drupes, each 0.2 to 0.5 inch (5 to 12 mm) long and 0.2 inch (5 mm) wide. Pale green in summer ripening to blue black in winter.

Ecology. Single plants or thicket-forming, occurring in the same habitats as Chinese privet, but generally not as abundant, depending upon location. Invade both lowland and upland habitats, but usually more prevalent in lowlands. Shade tolerant. Colonize by root sprouts and spread by abundant bird- and other animal-dispersed seeds.

Resembles Chinese privet, L. sinense Lour., which has smaller and thinner leaves, is further described in this book. Also resembles redtip, also named photinia, Photinia x fraseri Dress, an ornamental shrub that has similar but alternate leaves.

History and use. Introduced from Japan and Korea in 1845 and 1794, respectively. Widely planted as ornamentals and escaped.


Glossy Privet
June
Photo by J. Miller


Japanese Privet
July
Photo by J. Miller


Glossy Privet
June
Photo by J. Miller


Glossy Privet
October
Photo by J. Miller


Glossy Privet
June
Photo by J. Miller


Glossy Privet
December
Photo by J. Miller


Glossy Privet
June
Photo by J. Miller


States with suspected infestations are shown in gray.


Recommended control procedures:

  • Thoroughly wet all leaves with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant: August through September—Arsenal AC* as a 1-percent solution (4 ounces per 3-gallon mix) or Garlon 4 as a 3-percent solution (12 ounces per 3-gallon mix); March to June—a glyphosate herbicide as a 3-percent solution (12 ounces per 3-gallon mix).
  • For stems too tall for foliar sprays, apply Garlon 4 as a 20-percent solu- tion in commercially available basal oil, diesel fuel, or kerosene (2.5 quarts per 3-gallon mix) with a penetrant (check with herbicide distributor) to young bark as a basal spray (January to February or May to October). Or, cut large stems and immediately treat the stumps with Arsenal AC* or Velpar L* as a 10-percent solution in water (1 quart per 3-gallon mix) with a surfactant. When safety to surrounding vegetation is desired, immediately treat stumps and cut stems with a glyphosate herbicide or Garlon 3A as a 20-percent solution in water (2.5 quarts per 3-gallon mix) with a surfactant.

*   Nontarget plants may be killed or injured by root uptake.


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USDA Forest ServiceUSDA APHIS PPQThe Bugwood Network University of Georgia Bargeron, C.T., D.J. Moorhead, G.K. Douce, R.C. Reardon & A.E. Miller
(Tech. Coordinators). 2003. Invasive Plants of the Eastern U.S.:
Identification and Control. USDA Forest Service - Forest Health
Technology Enterprise Team. Morgantown, WV USA. FHTET-2003-08.