Wild privet, also sometimes known as Common privet or European privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
A privet is a flowering plant in the genusLigustrum. The genus contains about 50 species of erect, deciduous or evergreenshrubs, sometimes forming small or medium-sized trees,native to Europe, north Africa, Asia and Australasia.Privet was originally the name for the European semi-evergreen shrubLigustrum vulgare, and later also for the more reliably evergreen Ligustrum ovalifolium used extensively for privacy hedging, though now the name is applied to all members of the genus. The generic name was applied by Pliny the Elder (23 CE – 79) to L. vulgare. It is often suggested that the name privet is related to private, but the OED states that there is no evidence to support this.
Privet (Ligustrum) is a group of shrubs and small trees of southern and eastern Asia, from the Himalaya extending into Australia. They may be evergreen or deciduous, and are tolerant of different soil types. They often have conspicuous flower heads.
Chinese privet is used in traditional herbal medicine. The decoction of privet leaves or bark helps to treat diarrhea, stomach ulcers, chronic bowel problems, chapped lips, sore mouths and throats, and a wash for skin problems. Privet leaves and bark have bitter properties that make a useful tea for improving appetite and digestion in chemotherapy patients.
Some species produce a fruit, which is mildly toxic to humans. Symptoms from eating privet fruit include nausea, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, low blood pressure, and low body temperature. In large amounts, the odor produced from privet’s flowers can cause respiratory irritation and its pollen can cause an allergic reaction.
Privet is a successful invasive species because of its ability to outcompete and therefore displace native vegetation, due to its adaptability. Various species are now a problem in North America and Australasia.