Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Japanese Privet - Ligustrum japonicum   Thunberg
Members of Oleaceae:
Members of Ligustrum with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Scrophulariales » Family Oleaceae
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AuthorThunberg
DistributionSeveral counties in the middle of the state; plus Carteret, New Hanover, and Jackson counties. Certainly has escaped in many more counties. Specimens from Cabarrus, Dare, Davidson, Mecklenburg, Pasquotank, and Pitt counties are either misidentified (L. lucidum) or from cultivated plants.

Native of Japan and Korea; in N.A. VA to KY and AR south to FL and TX; also CA.
AbundanceUncommon to locally frequent in the middle of the state; rare in the Mountains and outer Coastal Plain.
HabitatWeedy slope on campus, roadsides, bank of creek, oak-hickory woods, wooded slope. Escapes to various openings and edges, usually not to the extent of being a major invasive species like L. sinense.
PhenologyFlowering April-June.
IdentificationJapanese Privet is a small evergreen tree, potentially up to 40-50 feet tall. It and L. lucidum have much larger leaves than our other privets, elliptical, entire on the margins, and about 2-3 inches long, and require some care to separate. Most useful are the longer flower/fruit stalks and fewer pairs of leaf veins in L. japonicum. This species has slightly smaller leaves (4-8 cm long vs 6-13 cm long in L. lucidum), and has acute to abruptly acuminate leaf tips vs. long acuminate leaf tips (in the other species). The abundant Chinese Privet (L. sinense) has smaller leaves not quite as shiny, and is essentially a shrub and never grows to tree size.
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State RankSE
Global RankGNR
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