You might have a
privet or two down the backyard - they often grow along fence lines and in
neglected corners. Sometimes there’s a big bushy clump where a tree was cut
down, only to have regrown as a many-stemmed shrub. Seedlings come up in the
garden too - usually as a single stem bearing along its length those noticeable
If you’ve had some confusion about this well-known woody
weed, it could be because there are two types: Small-leafed Privet (Ligustrum
sinense) and Large-leafed Privet (Ligustrum lucidum), both growing to large
shrubs or small trees, and both noxious.
The leaves are arranged opposite
each other on the stems, and are dark green on the upper surface and paler on
the underside. They are up to 12 cm long on Large-leafed Privet and up to 7 cm
long with wavy edges on Small-leafed Privet.
Privet is most noticeable at
flowering time when the air is heavy with that sickly-sweet scent that some of
us find unpleasant to say the least. This occurs in spring (Small-leafed) and
summer (Large-leafed). The flowering heads consist of numerous small white
flowers and are followed by dense clusters of purplish-black berries in
Privet was first brought to Australia as a hedging plant. But
when hedges were left unclipped and allowed to fruit, it was party-time for the
birds (particularly Currawongs) who dispersed the seed which readily germinates
in this warm moist climate. In the bush, privet established to form thickets
which crowded native bush plants.
Control & Removal Methods
Just pull out the small plants at seedling stage and up to a
metre or so. If any roots snap off the Small-leafed Privet, get them out as they
For larger plants you’ll need to dig, levering them out with
a mattock and digging out the broken roots.
Or else poison them by
lopping or sawing close to the ground level and immediately painting the stump
with glyphosate herbicide.
There are many suitable local native shrubs
and trees to grow in its place, once your privet is gone.