Small Leaf Privet

Botanical name: Ligustrum sinense
Noxious Weed Category: Class 4
Special note: Privet pollen and perfume is a major contributor to asthma and hayfever with each shrub producing more than 10,000 seeds a year.

Small Leaf Privet Small Leaf Privet


Also known as Chinese Privet and Hedge Privet. Originating in China, Small-leaf Privet is a common tall multi-stemmed shrub to 3m high found in moist, nutrient rich areas. It is hardy, everygreen, fast-growing, and was formerly used extensively for hedging. Stems are covered in lenticels (white dots)

Leaves oval to narrow with a pointed tip, pale green and up to 6cm long and 2cm wide. Leaves are opposite and often with wavy margins. Masses of heavily scented tiny white tubular flowers occur in drooping sprays in spring. 'Bunches' of distinctive small round purple-black berries persisting into winter.


One plant may produce up to a million seeds. Birds, including currawongs and common mynas carry seeds into the bush. Seedlings are also spread along watercourses.

Impact on bushland

Seeks out the more fertile soils of gullies, creeklines and rainforest edges, shading out native plants. Privet is highly invasive of gardens and bushland and has no natural enemies. Advantaged by disturbed soil and stimulated by plant breakage. Up to 100 privets can grow in 1 sq metre of soil.

Control Measures

The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that reduces its numbers, spread and incidence and continuously inhibits its flowering and reproduction.



  • Privet should be removed with caution. Wear clothes that cover up as much skin as possible. Wear gloves and work carefully.
  • Small plants and seedlings can be manually controlled.
  • Dig up as much of the main root system as possible to discourage suckering.
  • Large specimens can be cut and painted, or scraped and painted, applying an undiluted glyphosate based product.
  • Seek advice from your local control authority before removing from watercourses or steep land

See Manual Weed Control Techniques.

Chemical: Please contact your local control authority for advice on chemical control.

Similar species

May be confused with the native Grey Myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia). They grow in similar habitats, but the native myrtle has oil glands in its leaves (clearly visible when the leaf is held up to the sun). Also, when crushed Grey Myrtle leaves smell similar to their relatives, the eucalypts.

Suggested alternatives

  • For hedging: Lilly Pilly (Acmena smithii), and Photinia (Photinia glabra).
  • Grey Myrtle - see the Look-a-likes booklet.

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