Privet (Ligustrum vulgare)

Wild Privet (Ligustrum vulgare), also sometimes known as Common Privet or European Privet, is a species of Ligustrum native to central and southern Europe

  • Privet  -  Ligustrum Vulgaris  -  Leaves
  • Privet  -  Ligustrum Vulgaris  -  Blossom

Useful info about Privet trees

Latin NameLigustrum vulgare
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 5 metres (18 feet)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 1 - 5 metres (3 - 18 feet)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Sand
Locations SuitableFarmland, Gardens, Patios
FlowersWhite, strongly scented flowers in summer
FruitBlack berries in late summer / autumn


It is a semi-evergreen or deciduous shrub, growing to 3 m (rarely up to 5 m) tall. The stems are stiff, erect, with grey-brown bark spotted with small brown lenticels.

The leaves are borne in decussate opposite pairs, sub-shiny green, narrow oval to lanceolate, 2–6 cm long and 0.5–1.5 cm broad. The flowers are produced in mid summer in panicles 3-6 cm long, each flower creamy-white, with a tubular base and a four-lobed petals 4–6 mm diameter.

The flowers produce a strong, sweet fragrance that many people find unpleasant.

The fruit is a small glossy black berry 6–8 mm diameter, containing one to four seeds. The berries are poisonous to humans but readily eaten by thrushes, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.

Plants from the south of the range show a stronger tendency to be fully evergreen.

These have sometimes been treated as a separate variety Ligustrum vulgare var. italicum (Mill.) Vahl, but others do not regard it as distinct.

In the British Isles it is the only native privet, common in hedgerows and woodlands in southern England and Wales, especially in chalk areas; it is less common in northern England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, where it only occurs as an escape from cultivation.


The species was used for hedging in Elizabethan gardens, but after the introduction of the Japanese Ligustrum ovalifolium (Oval-leaved Privet) to Europe, it soon lost out in popularity to the newcomer, because although both are technically semi-evergreen, the Oval-leaved Privet keeps its leaves better in winter.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

In China, the Privet tree is a symbol of chastity.

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