Family: Oleaceae (Olive Family)
Duration and Habit: Perennial Shrub
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Evergreen shrub or small tree. Escaping from cultivation and established in fencerows, abandoned pastures, and low woodlands. Twigs greenish brown to gray, without hairs but with raised, corky dots (lenticels). Leaves opposite, petioled; blade firm textured, ovate to elliptic, up to 4 1/2 inches long and 2 inches wide pointed at the tip, and with smooth margins, upper surface dark green, smooth, glossy; lower surface lighter with a prominent, yellow, main vein. Flowers white, about 1/4 inch wide, petals bent back, in broad, dense clusters up to 8 inches long. Fruit berrylike, dark blue, 5/16 inch long and 1/4 inch wide, hanging on into winter.
Native Lookalikes: Currently no information available here yet, or there are no native Texas species that could be confused with Japanese privet.
Ecological Threat: While other species in the genus are problematic (L. sinense, Chinese privet; L. quihuoi, Wax-leaf ligustrum; and L. lucidum, Glossy privet), it is not clear whether Japanese privet is invasive. A review of reported cases of Japanese privet found "in the wild" appear mostly to be either misidentified or growing in old homestead sites, certainly in Texas and potentially in the southeast U.S. (Cliff Tyllick, pers. comm.). Given the invasiveness of other members of the genus, extreme caution should be exercised in choosing this plant for cultivation (garden use).
Biology & Spread: As with the other privets, spreads by root sprouts and spread by abundant bird- and other animal-dispersed seeds.
U.S. Habitat: Single plants or thicket-forming, occurring in the same habitats as Chinese privet, but generally not as abundant, depending upon location. Invade both lowland and upland habitats, but usually more prevalent in lowlands. Shade tolerant.
U.S. Nativity: Introduced to U.S.
Native Origin: Japan, Korea (Alfred Rehder, Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs: Hardy in North America, The MacMillan Co., New York (1967), Bailey, L.H. and E.Z. Bailey, Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada, MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York , (1977).); NatureServe Explorer
U.S. Present: AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NY, OK, PR, SC, TN, TX, VA
Distribution in Texas:
List All Observations of Ligustrum japonicum reported by Citizen Scientists
Miller, J.H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 pp (USDA SRS).
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