Characteristics of Chinese Privet Trees (Ligustrum sinense) in the Wild

Ligustrum sinense
The Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) is a species of privet native to China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Today the tree has naturalized in many places such as Réunion, Andaman Islands, Norfolk Island, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, and much of the eastern and southern United States.

The name “Chinese Privet” is often used to refer to the Ligustrum lucidum tree.

Chinese privet is cultivated as an ornamental tree and for fences or fences at the edge of the garden. Some of the best cultivars have been selected for cultivation, including:

  • Ligustrum sinense ‘Multiflorum’ (highly flowering)
  • Ligustrum sinense ‘Variegatum’ (the leafy one)
  • Ligustrum sinense ‘Wimbei’ (which grows to a height of 50 cm and leaves 6 mm long).

Whereas there are eight varieties of Ligustrum sinense listed in the Flora of China, they are:

  • Ligustrum sinense var. sinense
  • Ligustrum sinense var. concavum
  • Ligustrum sinense var. coryanum
  • Ligustrum sinense var. dissimile
  • Ligustrum sinense var. luodianense
  • Ligustrum sinense var. myrianthum
  • Ligustrum sinense var. opienense
  • Ligustrum sinense var. rugosulum

Originally, the Chinese privet was introduced to North America for use as a hedge and landscape complement but has now become an invasive plant in southeastern states.


Characteristics of Chinese Privet Leaf

Ligustrum sinense Leaf
Source: & Fauna of the Mid North Coast of NSW

The leaves are opposite, oval in shape, 2-7 cm long and 1-3 cm wide, 3-8 mm petiole, and a pointed leaf apex.


Characteristics of Chinese Privet Flower

Ligustrum sinense Flower
Source: Beránek

The flowers are white, with a crown of four lobes 3-5 mm long.


Characteristics of Chinese Privet Fruit

Ligustrum sinense Fruit
Source: & Fauna of the Mid North Coast of NSW

The fruit is subglobose, 5-8 mm in diameter, clustered with stalks, black when ripe, and considered poisonous.

Although poisonous, parts of this tree are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat


Characteristics of Chinese Privet Tree

Ligustrum sinense Tree
Source: Dog

Chinese privet grows as a perennial shrub to a maximum height of 7 meters if not pruned, and the tree canopy forms a dense dome.

In China, the Ligustrum sinense is called the Little Candle Tree (小蜡) and is easily found on riverbanks or along country roads.


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