Taxonomic name: Ligustrum sinense
Synonyms: Ligustrum calleryanum Decne., Ligustrum indicum (Lour.) Merr., Ligustrum microcarpum Kaneh. & Sasaki, Ligustrum sinense Lour. var. multiflorum Bowles, Ligustrum sinense Lour. var. villosum (May) Rehder, Ligustrum sinense var. stauntonii (DC.) Rehder, Ligustrum stauntonii DC., Ligustrum villosum May, Olea consanguinea Hance, Olea walpersiana Hance, Phillyrea indica Lour.
Common names: Chinese liguster (Afrikaans), Chinese ligustrum (English), Chinese privet (English), common chinese privet (English), hedge privet (English), small-leaf privet (English), troène de Chine (French), xiao la (Chinese)
Organism type: tree, shrub
Ligustrum sinense, or Chinese privet, is a shrub or small tree native to China, Vietnam and Laos that can grow up to 9 meters tall. Its flowers are small and somewhat unpleasantly fragrant and its fruits are dark blue or bluish-black. L. sinense has been reported in floodplains, wetlands and bogs, as well as in dry, moist and wet forests, waste places, roadsides and open stream systems. It is widespread and common, especially near towns, where it is deliberately planted. It may displace shrubs of alluvial forests and remain persistent in these areas. Chinese privet fruits are consumed by wildlife, particularly birds, which often excrete the seeds unharmed at distant locations where they may germinate and become established. L. sinense can easily escape cultivation to invade adjacent areas and can form dense monospecific thickets.
Ligustrum sinense is a deciduous shrub or small tree that typically grows to about 6m but may reach 9m. Its trunks usually occur as multiple stems with many long, leafy branches. Its bark is whitish-tan to gray in color and smooth in texture. Slender twigs are straight, rounded or four-angled below the nodes, and gray-green in color. Leaves are opposite, oval, pubescent on the underside of the midvein, and less than 5cm long. Small, white flowers develop at the end of branches in 5-7.6cm long clusters. Its fruits are oval, fleshy, less than 1.3cm long, ripen to a dark purple to black color, and persist into winter (Invasive.org, 2010; Batcher, 2000 Ulyshen et al, 2009).
Foresteria spp., Ligustrum spp., Viburnum obovatum
agricultural areas, coastland, natural forests, riparian zones, ruderal/disturbed, scrub/shrublands, urban areas, water courses, wetlands
Ligustrum sinense commonly forms dense thickets in fields or in the understory of forests (Invasive.org, 2010). It grows in a variety of forests, shrublands, woodlands, flood plains, wetlands, and coastal areas, but also has a particular affinity for disturbed or urbanized locations like cleared fields or along roadsides (Batcher, 2000; Greene & Blossey, 2009; Williams & Minogue, 2008; PIER, 2010). Occurrences have been recorded from lowland areas and up to 1830 meters elevation (Williams & Minogue, 2008; PIER, 2010). L. sinese tolerates a wide range of soil conditions and is shade tolerant, and tolerates, or even benefits from mutilation, cultivation, or fire (PIER, 2005).
Ligustrum sinense is extremely invasive and forms dense monospecific layers in forest interiors and edges that outcompete, displace and shade out native vegetation (Batcher, 2000; DPI, 2009; Invasive.org, 2010; Morris et al, 2002; Zhang, 2009). It reduces native plant abundance and diversity (Green & Blosey, 2009; Wilcox &Beck, 2007). These reductions in species richness and overstory reproduction associated with L. sinense could impact long-term forest structure and ecosystem function (Loewenstein & Loewenstein, 2005). It has been found to have toxic effects on animals and macroinvertebrates (DPI, 2009b; PIER, 2005), and one study observed that beetle richness increased greatly after its removal (Ulyshen et al, 2009). It is also believed to have a negative impact on water quality (DPI, 2009b).
PIER (2003) states that this species is commonly bought as an ornamental and used for hedges. It has been identified as an important forage plant for deer in the southeastern U.S. (Stromayer et al. 1998, in Batcher, 2000).
Ligustrum spp. leaves are high in phenolic compounds that defend against herbivores, especially insects. The compounds work by inhibiting digestive enzymes and proteins (Konno et al. 1998, in Batcher, 2000).
Native range: China, Hong Kong, Lao People`s Democratic Republic, Taiwan, Viet Nam (Vietnam),
Known introduced range: American Samoa, Argentina, Australia, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Reunion (La Réunion), Lord Howe Island, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Puerto Rico, Reunion (La Réunion), Samoa, South Africa, Tonga, United States (USA)
Introduction pathways to new locations
For ornamental purposes:
Landscape/fauna "improvement": Ligustrum spp. have been cultivated and developed into several horticultural varieties, which were introduced to North America and New Zealand as a common hedge in landscaping (Batcher, 2000).
Local dispersal methods
Consumption/excretion: Ligustrum sinense fruits are consumed by wildlife, particularly birds, which often excrete the seeds unharmed at distant locations where they may germinate and become established (Batcher, 2000).
Escape from confinement: Ligustrum sinense can easily escape cultivation to invade adjacent areas and can form dense monospecific thickets (Batcher, 2000).
For ornamental purposes (local): Ligustrum sinense spreads through planting as an ornamental (Baker, undated).
Restoration potential is likely to be lowest where Ligustrum spp. occur in high densities and there is a high likelihood of continued dispersal of seeds into the restoration area. If attacked during the early stages of colonization, the potential for successful management is high.
Manual and mechanical, environmental/cultural, and chemical methods are all useful in varying degrees in controlling Ligustrum spp.
For details on preventative measures, chemical, physical, biological control options, please see management information.
Ligustrum sinense is a perennial shrub that grows readily from seed or from root and stump sprouts. It may escape from cultivation when the fruits are consumed by wildlife, particularly birds, which often excrete the seeds unharmed at distant locations where they may germinate and become established (Batcher, 2000). An average square meter of canopy produces about 1,300 fruits (Burrows and Kohen 1986, in FLEPPC, Undated)
Germination rates for Ligustrum sinense have been variously reported as low as 5 to 27% (Tennessee Exotic Plants Council 1996, in Batcher, 2000) and as high as 77% (Schopmeyer 1974, in Batcher, 2000). The pure variegated form is not known to produce viable seeds (H. Gramling, Tampa Bay Wholesale Growers 1998 personal communication, in FLEPPC, Undated). The species is capable of producing more than 2,000 propagules annually as 2,800 fruit per stem has been reported as an average annual production (Westoby, Dalby & Adams-Acton 1983 in DPI, 2009).
Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Updates with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment
Last Modified: Friday, 20 August 2010