California Privet
Ligustrum ovalifoliumOleaceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerFruitFruit
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • none

The Plant:

  • A shrub that can grow up to 15 feet tall.

The Leaves:

  • shiny
  • leathery
  • possibly evergreen
  • elliptic
  • opposite

The Stem:

  • hairless, slender, round twigs

The Flowers:

  • White, four-petaled flowers in cone-shaped, terminal clusters. Individual flowers are small.

The Fruits:

  • small
  • black berries

The Habitat:

  • hedging, landscapes, fencerows
  • roadsides


  • birds eat the fruits and disperse seeds
  • still used in landscaping

Key ID Features:

  • pointed bud scales
  • opposite leaves
  • hairless twigs

Similar Species:

  • Privets are very difficult to distinguish, Ligustrum obtusifolium (Border Privet) has nearly hairless twigs and anthers that reach the tips of the corolla lobes. L. ovalifolium (California Privet) has smooth twigs and anthers that surpass the corolla lobes. L. sinense (Chinese Privet) has hairy twigs and anthers that almost reach the tips of the corolla lobes. L. vulgare (European Privet) has densely pubescent twigs and anthers that surpass the corolla lobes.


  • Commonly planted as a hedge around gardens and homes, this plant can escape and crowd out native species by forming dense thickets.
  • On Nantucket, there is one known dense stand of this species, other occurrences in the wild are in small populations in fairly close proximity to one another.

Growth Form: Shrub

Origin: Japan

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Likely Invasive

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Does not meet criteria

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: no

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston