Invasive Chinese Privet

Chinese privet is an evergreen shrub that is aggressive and troublesome, spreading easily and crowding out native plants. It often forms dense thickets, particularly in bottom-land forests and along fencerows, thus gaining access to forests, fields, and right-of-ways. Being shade tolerant, it can invade forest interiors as well. It colonizes by root sprouts and is spread widely by abundant bird- and other animal-dispersed seeds.

Chinese privet has distinctive spreading branches. It is a “small-leaf” privet, with leaf blades up to 2 inches long. Leaves are opposite with short petioles, ovate to elliptic, usually rounded at the tip, sometimes with a small notch, tapering to the base, and with smooth margins. It produces abundant white, fragrant flowers, about 3/8 inch wide, borne in narrow clusters up to 4 inches long, and appearing from March to May. Its fruit are berrylike, bluish black, 1/4 inch long by 3/16 inch wide, in clusters that bend down the branchlets bearing them, and hanging on into winter.

Chinese privet was introduced into the United States in 1852 as an ornamental.
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