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 opposite
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 winter.
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.
Noxious Weed Category:
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 will regrow.
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.