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Wild Privet

Ligustrum vulgare

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Oleaceae (Olive)
Semi-evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
5 metres tall
Gardens, grassland, hedgerows, scrub, woodland.

White, 4 petals
The flowers of Wild Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) are small, white, and tubular in shape, with a pleasing fragrance. These flowers are attractive to pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Matt black berries. In fruit from September to December.
The leaves are leathery green, opposite, untoothed and oval. The leaves are more elliptical than those of the similar-looking Garden Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium). The leaves often go bronze-coloured in winter.
The aroma of Wild Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) flowers is sweet and fragrant, often described as having a pleasant, honey-like scent.
Other Names:
Common Privet, European Privet, Prim, Prim-cut.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Ligustrum vulgare, commonly known as wild privet or common privet, is a species of flowering plant in the olive family Oleaceae. It is native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa, but it is widely cultivated in other parts of the world as an ornamental plant. The plant is known for its glossy, green leaves and its small, white, fragrant flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. This plant can grow to around 2-5 meters tall and wide, and it can be grown as a hedge or as a single specimen. The Common Privet is a hardy, adaptable plant and it can tolerate a wide range of soils and conditions. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. However, it has been considered as an invasive species in some areas, as it can spread rapidly and outcompete native plants.


Wild privet, scientifically known as Ligustrum vulgare, is a species of deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub that is native to Europe and parts of Asia. It is commonly found in hedgerows, woodlands, and along the edges of fields, and has become naturalized in North America as well. Wild privet is a popular plant for use in hedges and as a specimen shrub in gardens, and has been cultivated in various forms and cultivars.

Description and Characteristics

Wild privet can grow up to 5-6 meters in height, with a spread of 4-5 meters. Its leaves are glossy, dark green, and oval-shaped, with pointed tips. The flowers are small, white, and fragrant, and bloom in late spring to early summer. The fruit is a small, black berry that is toxic to humans but is consumed by birds and other wildlife. Wild privet is a fast-growing shrub that can be easily trimmed and shaped, making it a popular choice for hedges and topiary.


Wild privet has been used for a variety of purposes throughout history. The leaves were traditionally used in herbal medicine for their diuretic and laxative properties, and the berries were used as a purgative. The wood of the shrub was used for making musical instruments, tool handles, and furniture. In landscaping, wild privet is commonly used as a hedge or as a specimen shrub, due to its fast growth rate and ease of maintenance.


Wild privet is a hardy shrub that can tolerate a range of soil types, from sandy to clay, as long as it is well-drained. It prefers full sun to partial shade and can grow in both acidic and alkaline soils. Wild privet can be propagated from seed, cuttings, or by layering. It can be pruned in early spring to shape it into a hedge or to control its size. It is important to note that wild privet is considered invasive in some areas, so it is recommended to check with local authorities before planting it.

Wild privet is a versatile and hardy shrub that has been used for centuries for its medicinal and practical purposes. Today, it is commonly used in landscaping as a hedge or as a specimen shrub. With its glossy leaves, fragrant flowers, and fast growth rate, it is easy to see why wild privet is such a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers alike. However, it is important to be aware of its potential invasiveness and to plant it responsibly in areas where it is not a threat to local ecosystems.

More Information about the Wild Privet

While wild privet is a popular shrub for landscaping, it is important to note that it can have negative effects on local ecosystems if not planted responsibly. In some areas, wild privet can become invasive and outcompete native plant species. This can have a negative impact on biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Therefore, it is important to check with local authorities before planting wild privet, and to avoid planting it in areas where it is not native or may become invasive.

In addition to its potential invasiveness, the berries of wild privet are toxic to humans and can cause nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms if ingested. It is important to handle the shrub with care and to avoid ingesting any parts of the plant.

One interesting aspect of wild privet is its cultural significance. In some cultures, wild privet is believed to have protective properties and is used in rituals to ward off evil spirits. It has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine for its diuretic and laxative properties, and in Europe, it was believed to have healing properties and was used to treat various ailments.

Wild privet has also been used in literature and art. In William Shakespeare's play "A Midsummer Night's Dream," the character Oberon references wild privet in a spell to enchant the character Titania. In the painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch, wild privet is depicted as a symbol of deceit and temptation.

Despite its potential invasiveness, wild privet can also provide valuable habitat and food for wildlife. The berries are an important food source for birds, and the shrub can provide shelter for small animals and insects. In addition, wild privet can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion, making it a useful plant for landscaping and restoration projects.

Another interesting aspect of wild privet is its use in traditional hedgerow management. In many parts of Europe, hedges made up of wild privet and other shrubs have been used for centuries to delineate property boundaries and contain livestock. These hedges are carefully maintained through a process of coppicing, in which the shrubs are periodically cut down to the ground to promote new growth. This practice not only helps maintain the shape and density of the hedge but also provides a sustainable source of firewood and other materials.

Wild privet is also valued for its ability to absorb air pollution. In urban areas, where air quality can be poor due to traffic and other sources of pollution, wild privet and other plants can help remove harmful pollutants from the air. This makes it a useful plant for urban greening initiatives and other efforts to improve air quality.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in using wild privet and other plants for phytoremediation, a process by which plants are used to clean up contaminated soils and water. Wild privet has been shown to be effective at removing heavy metals and other pollutants from soil, making it a potentially useful plant for environmental cleanup efforts.

In summary, wild privet is a versatile and useful shrub with a range of applications. From traditional hedgerow management to urban greening initiatives and environmental remediation projects, wild privet has a lot to offer. With its attractive foliage, fragrant flowers, and fast growth rate, it is no wonder that wild privet remains a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers alike.

30 Fascinating Facts About the Wild Privet

Here are 30 facts about the Wild Privet (Ligustrum vulgare):

  1. Wild Privet, scientifically known as Ligustrum vulgare, is a deciduous shrub.
  2. It is native to Europe and parts of Asia.
  3. Wild Privet is often found in hedgerows, woodlands, and scrublands.
  4. This shrub can grow up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) in height.
  5. Its leaves are dark green, opposite, and lance-shaped.
  6. Wild Privet produces small, white, tubular flowers in summer, which are highly fragrant.
  7. The flowers are attractive to pollinators, including bees and butterflies.
  8. The fruit of Wild Privet is a small, black, berry-like drupe.
  9. Birds, such as thrushes and blackbirds, feed on the fruit and help with seed dispersal.
  10. Wild Privet has been used in traditional herbal medicine for its medicinal properties.
  11. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of soil types and conditions.
  12. In some regions, Wild Privet is considered invasive and can outcompete native species.
  13. The wood of Wild Privet is hard and durable, making it suitable for crafting.
  14. In ancient times, the wood was used to make musical instruments, such as flutes.
  15. The Latin name "Ligustrum" is derived from the word "ligare," which means "to bind," referring to its use in making woven fences.
  16. Wild Privet is a member of the olive family (Oleaceae).
  17. It is often grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes.
  18. Pruning Wild Privet can promote dense growth and hedge formation.
  19. It is a popular choice for creating formal hedges.
  20. The shrub provides cover and nesting sites for birds and other wildlife.
  21. Wild Privet leaves are toxic to humans when ingested and can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
  22. It has been historically used for its dye-producing properties.
  23. The plant's leaves were used to produce a green dye.
  24. In some cultures, Wild Privet is associated with protection against evil spirits.
  25. The wood of Wild Privet was once used to make fine woodcuts.
  26. In France, Wild Privet is known as "Troène commun."
  27. In herbal medicine, Wild Privet has been used to treat conditions like bronchitis.
  28. It is a good candidate for creating topiary sculptures due to its dense growth.
  29. Wild Privet is relatively low-maintenance and can thrive in urban environments.
  30. Some varieties of Wild Privet have variegated leaves, adding ornamental value to gardens.


Wild Privet filmed at Gait Barrows Nature Reserve in Lancashire on the 18th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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