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TREES & plants

European privet

Leaves and immature fruit of European privet.

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.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name: 
Ligustrum vulgare
All Common Names: 
European privet, Wild privet, English privet, Primwort
Family (English): 
olive
Family (Botanic): 
Oleaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Hedge, 
  • Massing, 
  • Screen, 
  • Windbreak
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 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant, 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Irregular, 
  • Multi-stemmed
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
More Information: 

Size & form

An irregular-shaped, spreading shrub reaching 12 to 15 feet high and wide

Tree & Plant Care

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

Disease, pests, and problems

Anthracnose, leaf spots, cankers

Native geographic location and habitat

Northern Europe, Africa, Asia, Poland

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

Birds spread seeds
Flowers attracts butterflies

Bark color and texture 

Smooth slender twigs, light gray to tannish color

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, simple, oblong, 1 to 2 1/2 inches long with short petiole
Leaf margins are entire with a pointed tip

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

White flowers in terminal clusters after leaves emerge. Individual flowers are 4-petaled, tubular shaped.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Each blue-black fruit is 1/4 inches in drooping clusters persisting into winter.

Cultivars and their differences 

Cheyenne European privet (Ligustrum vulgare 'Cheyenne'): Most popular cultivar with fragrant white flowers, 10 to 12 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide

Ligustrum vulgare or European privet