Water chestnut (Trapa natans)
Photo credit: © Sonnia Hill/Flickr

Chinese Privet

(Ligustrum sinense)

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If you believe you have found this species anywhere in Pennsylvania, please report your findings to iMapInvasives by submitting an observation record.

Species at a Glance

Chinese privet alters community structure and composition by creating a dense shrub layer that shades plant species in lower layers (Batcher et al. 2000). It is reported as invasive in six southeastern states (Miller et al. 2003), where it can infest pinelands, hammocks, river and stream floodplains, lake shores, edges of swamps and marshes, bottomland forests, and woodlands (CAIP; Batcher et al. 2000; Campbell and Fenderson 1995). Chinese privet produces large quantities of fruit, which are eaten by birds (Batcher et al. 2000, Urbatsch 2000). It may be controlled in three to five years using a combination of mechanical and chemical treatments (Batcher et al. 2000). 

Similar Species

Chinese privet alters community structure and composition by creating a dense shrub layer that shades plant species in lower layers (Batcher et al. 2000). It is reported as invasive in six southeastern states (Miller et al. 2003), where it can infest pinelands, hammocks, river and stream floodplains, lake shores, edges of swamps and marshes, bottomland forests, and woodlands (CAIP; Batcher et al. 2000; Campbell and Fenderson 1995). Chinese privet produces large quantities of fruit, which are eaten by birds (Batcher et al. 2000, Urbatsch 2000). It may be controlled in three to five years using a combination of mechanical and chemical treatments (Batcher et al. 2000).

Habitat

Chinese privet is a terrestrial species, found in places including edges of swamps and marshes, in rivers and stream floodplains, pinelands, lake shores, and woodlands.

Distribution

Native to southeast Asia, Chinese privet was first introduced into North America in 1852 as an ornamental plant. It then began to naturalize and spread, and by the 1950's, it was widely established. Chinese privet can now be found in the southern United States, but also in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Environmental Impacts

This deciduous shrub invades the habitats of native species by forming a dense cover, displacing plants in the undergrowth. At least one globally rare and federally endangered plant, Schweinitz's sunflower (Helianthus schweinitzii), is under threat due to this species. Chinese privet produces large quantities of fruit which are eaten and dispersed by birds over long distances.

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