Characteristics of Japanese Privet Trees (Ligustrum japonicum) in the Wild

Ligustrum japonicum
Japanese privet or Wax-leaf privet (Ligustrum japonicum) is a species of privet native to Japan, precisely in Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, Okinawa. The tree is widely cultivated in other areas and is naturalized in California and the southeastern United States from Texas to Virginia.

According to several credible sources on the internet, the Japanese privet tree arrived in America in the early 1800s and has become an invasive plant, especially in South America.

Today, the Japanese privet tree is widely grown as an ornamental tree in Europe and North America. Several cultivars have been selected for ornamental trees in the garden, including Ligustrum japonicum ‘Rotundifolium’ and Ligustrum japonicum ‘Silver Star’.


Characteristics of Japanese Privet Leaf

Ligustrum japonicum Leaf
Source: Is My Father’s World

The leaves are opposite, 5-10 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, thick, leathery, glossy dark green above, pale gray below, and with margins around the edges.


Characteristics of Japanese Privet Flower

Ligustrum japonicum Flower

The flowers are white, with four-lobed corollas 5-6 mm long, they are borne in clusters of 7-15 cm and appear in early summer.


Characteristics of Japanese Privet Fruit

Ligustrum japonicum Fruit
Source: Tree Library

The fruit is oval, about 10 mm long, and when ripe is purple-black with a grayish-green wax in early winter.

Japanese privet fruit is used in herbal medicine to treat cardiotonic, diuretic, laxative, and tonic.


Characteristics of Japanese Privet Tree

Ligustrum japonicum Tree
Source: Spencer

Japanese Privet grows as a shrub or small tree 2-3 meters (rarely 6 m) tall, with smooth grayish-brown bark.

Besides being planted as a complementary tree for landscapes and gardens, the Japanese Privet is also popularly used in the art of bonsai and is one of the trees that are suitable for bonsai.

In various countries, this tree is known by various names such as ネズミモチ in Japan, 광나무 in Korea, Aligustrón in Spain, Troène du Japon in France, Japanische Liguster in Germany, and Japanese Privet or Wax-leaf Privet in English-speaking countries.


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