invasive privet with berries

Invasive privet with berries

Image credit: Western New York PRISM

Invasive Privet

Ligustrum spp.


The Privet family includes multiple species, cultivars, and hybrids of privets that are often planted ornamentally but have a tendency to escape into natural habitats. KISMA focuses mainly on the border privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium), amur privet (Ligustrum amurense), and hybrids of the two. Common identifying characteristics include:

  • woody shrub that grows around 10 feet tall with multiple stems
  • opposite leaves are usually oblong to ovate in shape, and around 1.5 inches long
  • stems, petioles, and leaves are often pubescent in varying amounts depending on the species
  • white to cream flowers grow in clumps at the end of branches and bloom around June

Note: Differentiating between privet species can be challenging especially due to the likelihood of hybridization.

For more identification tips, or to differentiate between privet species, visit Woody Invasives of the Great Lakes (WIGL) Collaborative and Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN)and search for privets.

invasive privet shrub with flowers

Invasive privet shrub with flowers

Image credit: Richard Gardner

invasive privet leaf structure

Opposite leaves of privet

Image credit: August Camp

invasive privet flower

Invasive privet flower

Image credit: Sigrid Resh

invasive privet leaves and flower

Invasive privet leaves and flowers

Image credit: Sigrid Resh

invasive privet leaf

Privet lower branch leaf structure

Image credit: August Camp

invasive privet leaves and berries

Privet leaves with unripened berries

Image credit: August Camp

KISMA Management Practices

Invasive privets are capable of escaping gardens and establishing thick understory thickets in natural areas, making them a KISMA species of concern. An early infestation of invasive privet on the Tech Trails was identified and removed by KISMA in 2021. Although now removed, there are likely satellite populations elsewhere. Report any instances of invasive privets found in natural habitats to KISMA, as we are currently keeping an eye out for more occurrences of this species.