Large Leaf Privet

(Also known as Broad Leaf Privet)

Ligustrum lucidum

Family: Oleaceae

Type of weed:

Noxious Weed Class 4. (See more noxious weeds).

Flowering Months: , , , ,

Description

A large shrub to small tree from 4 m to 10 m tall; robust, vigorous, evergreen, and fast growing.

Stems are covered in lenticels (white dots).

Large dark green leaves are oval up to 13 cm long and 5 cm wide, with a pointed tip. The lower leaf surface is paler.

Abundant small, white, and strongly scented tubular flowers are produced in clusters in late spring to summer.

Sprays of small round purple-black berries occur in summer and persist into winter.

Don’t confuse with…

In the lower Mountains, it  can be confused with:

  • Lilly Pilly (Acmena smithii). The Lilly Pilly has oil glands in its leaves.
  • Cheese Tree (Glochidion ferdinandi). The Cheese Tree fruit is a characteristically pumpkin shape or ‘edam’ cheese shape up to 20 mm in diameter, splitting when ripe to reveal bright red orange seeds.

Dispersal

One plant can produce up to a million seeds. Seed is spread by fruit-eating birds, and is also washed down waterways. The plant can also spread though layering.

Impact on bushland

The plant is usually found in moist, nutrient rich sites such as gullies where it grows thickly, shades out native plants and transforms the habitat into a weed plume.

Once the fast-growing seedlings establish, privet’s well developed matted, fibrous root systems deprive natives of nutrients and moisture.

The ability to block out light prevents germination of native seeds, and because privet lowers temperatures, privet plumes can result in the death of some established eucalypts.

Distribution

,

Alternative planting

Native plants

  • Blueberry Ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatis)
  • Lillypilly (Acmena smithii)
  • Black Wattle (Callicoma serratifolia)
  • Grey Myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia)

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Exotic alternatives

Fried Egg Plant (Franklinia axillaris syn.Gordonia).

Control

  • Seedlings can be hand pulled if all the root can be removed. Use a trowel to loosen the soil first. Seedling beds can be sprayed with a selective herbicide. Prepare around native plants first to protect them before spraying.
  • More established plants will need to be cut and painted using herbicide.
  • Larger plants can be stem injected.

Because the berries are bird spread, it is best to treat plants before they fruit. Otherwise, bag the berries and if possible dispose of in a hot compost to kill the seeds. Other cut parts of the plant can be spread out to dry off the soil. Once material is dead it will break down where suspended, or can be removed and composted.

When planning a staged removal of an area of privets on a creek bank or slope, the main stem can be cut approximately 1 m above the soil, but not treated with poison. This keeps the roots alive, stabilising the soil and preventing further seed production. A lower cut will encourage multi-stem growth. Once native vegetation has established itself, the privet stems can be treated as above.

For more info

For key points on these techniques:

Noxious Weed Class 4

Locally Controlled Weeds

Characteristics: Class 4 noxious weeds are plants that pose a threat to primary production, the environment or human health, are widely distributed in an area to which the order applies and are likely to spread in the area or to another area.

Control objective: Minimise the negative impact of those plants on the economy, community or environment of NSW.

Example control requirements: The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that reduces its numbers, spread and incidence, and continuously inhibits its reproduction. The plant may not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed.

NSW Noxious Weeds Act 1993

Refer to the NSW Department of Primary Industry’s Noxious and Environmental Weed Control Handbook.