Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense) is a large shrub or small tree usually less than 3 m tall.
  • It has relatively small paired leaves and produces bluish-black fruit during winter.
  • Chinese Privet is spread from gardens and hedges into bushland areas by birds and other animals that eat its fruit.
  • It has invaded rainforests, gullies and waterways in the coastal and sub-coastal districts of eastern Australia.
  • Chinese Privet can form dense thickets which shade out and displace native species. It can also transform the habitat available to native animals.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense) is a large shrub or a small tree usually less than 3 m tall, occasionally reaching 4 to 5 m in height. The younger stems are hairy, rounded and greenish in colour, while older stems turn greyish-brown and lose their hairs as they mature. The small leaves (2 to 7 cm long and 1 to 3 cm wide) are ovate to oval in shape and are borne on stalks 3 to 8 mm long. These leaves are oppositely arranged along the stems and have entire or wavy margins. They are usually densely hairy, particularly on their undersides, and have pointed or rounded tips (Navie & Adkins 2007).

The small flowers have four white or cream petals (2 to 5.5 mm long) that are fused together at the base into a very short tube. These flowers are arranged in dense clusters (4 to 11 cm long) at the tips of the branches and each flower is borne on a short stalk 1 to 5 mm long.

The small rounded or slightly egg-shaped fruit (4 to 8 mm long) are berry-like with a hard centre (they are called drupes). These fruit turn from green to black, bluish-black or purplish-black as they mature (Navie & Adkins 2007).

For further information and assistance with identification of Chinese Privet contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)

Shrub, Tree

Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Chinese Privet is mostly found in wetter tropical, sub-tropical and warmer temperate regions. It has become naturalised in and around rainforest areas, along roadsides and waterways, in urban bushland, open woodlands, waste areas and disturbed sites (Navie & Adkins 2007).

Are there similar species?

Chinese Privet is very similar to Broad-leaved Privet (Ligustrum lucidum), Common Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) and Native Privet (Ligustrum australianum). Chinese Privet can generally be distinguished from these other species by its hairy younger stems and leaves. Broad-leaved Privet also has larger leaves (4 to 24 cm long) and has a larger stature, sometimes reaching up to 12 m tall, while Common Privet loses its leaves during winter. Native Privet, which is only present in northern and central Queensland, has smaller flowers with petals only about 2 mm long (Navie & Adkins 2007).

Chinese Privet can also be confused with various native rainforest species (e.g. Syzygium spp.) when not in flower or fruit.

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Chinese Privet was included in the list of 71 species that were nominated by state and territory governments for assessment as Weeds of National Significance (WONS). Following an assessment process, Chinese Privet was not included as one of the 20 WONS. However, it remains a weed of potential national significance.

Native ecosystems: Chinese Privet is a significant environmental weed in New South Wales and Queensland, and an emerging or potential environmental weed in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory. It is of most concern in south-eastern Queensland, where it is ranked among the top 25 environmental weeds, and in eastern New South Wales (Batianoff & Butler 2002; Navie & Adkins 2007). Chinese Privet invades gullies, creeklines, watercourses, forest gaps and the margins of rainforests and forms dense thickets that shade out other plants. It out-competes or suppresses native vegetation and can dominate the shrub layer of an invaded habitat, altering the composition and structure of the community. This transforms the habitat available to native animals and stands of this weed may also hinder animal movement through bushland areas (Navie & Adkins 2007).

Human impacts: The leaves and fruit of Chinese Privet are poisonous to livestock and humans. It also produces masses of heavily scented white flowers that cause severe allergic reactions in susceptible people (Navie & Adkins 2007).

Agriculture: An unidentified toxin in the leaves and fruit of narrow leaf privet may cause tremors and seizures in poultry. No cases have occurred in Australia (NSW WeedWise 2020).

How does it spread?

Chinese Privet reproduces by seed and root suckers, and re-sprouts after its stems are deliberately cut or otherwise damaged. Its seeds are readily dispersed by birds and other animals that eat the fruit. They may also be spread by water and in dumped garden waste (Navie & Adkins 2007).

What is its history in Australia?

Chinese Privet was deliberately introduced into Australia as an ornamental. particularly for use as a garden hedge (Land Protection 2006).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Controlling the spread of Chinese Privet requires the removal of larger seed-producing trees, in order to prevent further dispersal by birds (Mowatt 1998). Check with your local council or state/territory government agency about its requirements for Chinese Privet control.

Non-chemical control: Mechanical control: Large pure stands of Chinese Privet can be cleared using bulldozers or manually. Cleared areas should then be revegetated with native trees, shrubs and ground cover plants and repeatedly hand-weeded or otherwise maintained until the natural vegetation becomes established.

Manual control: Removing isolated Chinese Privet plants from natural bush should be done with minimal disturbance to the native vegetation, as Chinese Privet and other weeds are often better able to take advantage of disturbance. Younger plants can be hand-pulled, and uprooted plants should be placed upside-down with their roots in the air, to dry out.

Fire: Chinese Privet thickets do not usually carry fires and the plants regenerate rapidly by sprouting or suckering after fire. As a result, burning is usually not feasible or is ineffective (Mowatt 1998).

Land management: Reducing or stopping the movement of nutrients in water  into riparian areas may help prevent establishment of large privet infestations (NSW WeedWise 2020).

Chemical control: Older plants can be controlled using herbicides, applied according to the cut stump, basal bark or stem injection methods (Land Protection 2006). Other herbicide application methods that can be used on Chinese Privet include spraying and, splatter gun (NSW WeedWise 2020).

See the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Chinese Privet seed can remain viable for at least two years and seedlings can survive for long periods in unfavourable conditions (Mowatt 1998). Flowering occurs mostly during spring, with the fruit maturing during autumn and winter (Navie & Adkins 2007).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Chinese Privet is mainly naturalised in the coastal districts of eastern Australia. It is most common in south-eastern Queensland and in the coastal and sub-coastal regions of eastern New South Wales (including the Australian Capital Territory). It also has a scattered distribution in central and northern Queensland and has been recorded on Lord Howe Island and on Norfolk Island (Navie & Adkins 2007).

Where does it originate?

Chinese Privet is native to China and south-eastern Asia (Taiwan, Laos and Vietnam) (GRIN 2007).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Ligustrum sinense

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Narrow-leaved Privet, Small-leaved Privet, Privet, Hedge Privet, Narrow-leaf Privet, Chinese Ligustrum, Ligustrum

Blackberry – a community-driven approach in Victoria

Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia. It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.

Read Case Study