Content Detail

Common or European privet is a wide spreading shrub often used as a hedge or for screening unwanted views, reaching 10 to 12 feet high and wide. Clusters of fragrant white flowers in mid-June are followed by blue-black berries. This plant is considered invasive by Midwest Invasive Plant Network and should be used cautiously.

  • Family (English) olive
  • Family (botanic) Oleaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding
  • Season of interest mid spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Irregular, Multi-stemmed
  • Growth rate Fast

Size & form:

This is an irregular-shaped, spreading shrub reaching 12 to 15 feet high and wide.

Native geographic location and habitat:

This shrub is native to northern Europe, Africa, Asia, and Poland.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

Birds ingest and spread seeds and the flowers attracts butterflies.

Bark color and texture:

This shrub has smooth slender twigs that are light gray to tannish in color.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are opposite, simple, oblong, and 1 to 2 1/2 inches long with short petioles. Leaf margins are entire with a pointed tip.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

White flowers in terminal clusters appear after leaves emerge. The individual flowers are four-petaled and tubular shaped.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Each blue-black fruit is 1/4 inches and grows in drooping clusters that persist into winter.

Plant care:

Best grown in full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soils.  It is tolerant of wet or dry soils once established and should be pruned after flowering to reduce fruit and maintain size and form. Birds deposit seeds in wooded areas and it is considered invasive in the Midwest.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Anthracnose, leaf spots and canker diseases are common problems for this tree.

Cheyenne European privet (Ligustrum vulgare ‘Cheyenne’):

This is the most popular cultivar with fragrant white flowers and grows 10 to 12 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide.


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