Ligustrum lucidum (broad-leaf privet)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Air Temperature
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Ligustrum lucidum W.T.Aiton
Preferred Common Name
- broad-leaf privet
Other Scientific Names
- Esquirolia sinensis H.Lév.
- Ligustrum compactum var. latifolium W.C.Cheng
- Ligustrum esquirolii H.Lév.
- Ligustrum lucidum f. latifolium (W.C.Cheng) P.S.Hsu
- Ligustrum lucidum f. lucidum
- Ligustrum lucidum var. alivonii Rehder
- Ligustrum lucidum var. aureomarginatum Rehder
- Ligustrum lucidum var. esquirolii. H.Lév
- Ligustrum lucidum var. tricolor Rehder
- Ligustrum lucidum var. xideense J.L.Liu
- Ligustrum magnoliifolium Dippel
- Ligustrum roxburghii Blume
- Ligustrum wallichii Vis.
- Olea chinensis Sweet
- Olea clavata G.Don
- Phillyrea paniculata Roxb.
- Visiania paniculata (Roxb.) DC.
International Common Names
- English: broad leaf privet; broad-leaf privet; Chinese privet; glossy privet; glossy privet; Nepal privet; tree privet; wax-leaved privet
- Spanish: aligustre
- French: troène à feuilles brillantes; troène luisant
- Chinese: nu zhen
Local Common Names
- Finland: kiiltolikusteri
- Italy: ligustro lucido
- Portugal: ligustro
- LIGLU (Ligustrum lucidum)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
L. lucidum is a small tree native to China. It was widely introduced into temperate regions around the world for its ornamental purposes and use in hedgerows. L. lucidum is tolerant of a wide range of soils and light conditions and, in addition to vegetative reproduction, it produces a large number of seeds which are readily dispersed by birds. These features help to make L. lucidum a successful invader. L. lucidum has been reported as invasive in Argentina, Australia, Mozambique, South Africa and USA where it can form dense impenetrable stands which can outcompete native flora and decrease biodiversity.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Oleales
- Family: Oleaceae
- Genus: Ligustrum
- Species: Ligustrum lucidum
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The genus Ligustrum contains around 40 species and is found throughout most of the temperate and tropical Old World except Africa and the coldest regions (Green, 1987). This genus contains a large number of invasive species. It is a member of the Oleaceae, a medium sized family consisting of around 600 species in 25 genera. Recent molecular studies have revealed that the genera Ligustrum and Syringa are closely related and exist in the subtribe Ligustrinae within the tribe Oleeae (Wallander and Albert, 2000). The genus Ligustrum has been the subject of repeated reviews in the past (Green, 1985; Green, 1990; Green, 1995) and the current opinion is that the distinctions between species in the genus Ligustrum are small. The current accepted name of L. lucidum was described in the Hortus Kewensis (Aiton, 1810).
The Plant List (2013) lists a total of 17 different synonyms for this species. The common name Chinese privet is most frequently used for the closely related and invasive species L. sinense. A number of cultivars of L. lucidum exist, the most common of which is L. lucidum “Tricolor” with variegated leaves (Queensland Government, 2016).
DescriptionTop of page
L. lucidum is an evergreen shrub or small tree 2-10 m tall (in some cases up to 25 m). The leaves are glaborous (i.e. hairless) and vary from ovate (egg-shaped) to elliptic in shape. Leaves are 6-17 long and 3-8 cm wide, leathery or papery with the base rounded or sometimes attenuate and the apex acute to acuminate or sometimes obtuse. Leaves have between 4 to 11 primary veins on each side of the mid-vein, slightly raised or obscure. Flowers are sessile or nearly so with four white or cream petals (calyx 1.5-2 mm, corolla 4-5 mm) that are fused at the base into a very short tube. Flowers have a sickly sweet fragrance. Flowers have two stamens approaching the apex of corolla lobes with anthers of 1-1.5 mm long and hold pyramidal panicles 8-20 cm long and 8-25 cm wide. Fruits are deep blue-black, ripening becomes red-black (7-10 × 4-6 mm) (Nesom, 2009; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015).
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
L. lucidum is native to China (Csurhes and Edwards, 1998; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). It has been introduced around the world for its ornamental purposes and use in hedges. It has since naturalized in a number of countries and there are records of this species on all continents except Antarctica.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 14 Dec 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Italy||Present||Introduced||Present in Sicily|
|Switzerland||Present, Only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced|
|United States||Present||Introduced||Invasive||First reported: 1794-1845|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced|
|New Zealand||Present||Introduced||1950||Original citation: Environment Bay of Plenty's Pest Plant Section (ENVBOP) (2005)|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
L. lucidum was most probably collected by European horticulturalists in 1794 from China and introduced into the UK (Chittenden, 1951; Swarbrick et al., 1999). Since then it has been widely used as an ornamental in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
L. lucidum was introduced from Korea in 1794 and from Japan in 1845 and imported into eastern USA (Centre for Invasive Species Ecosystem Health, 2016). Records suggest that it was introduced into Australia as an ornamental in the nineteenth century and rapidly naturalized in the 1950s (Swarbrick et al., 1999). It was introduced into Argentina in 1900 (Aguirre-Acosta et al., 2014) and New Zealand in 1950 (Swarbrick et al., 1999).
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Argentina||1900||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||Aguirre-Acosta et al. (2014)||Deliberate|
|Australia||1932||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (2015)||Deliberate|
|New Zealand||1950||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||Swarbrick et al. (1999)||Deliberate|
|UK||China||1794||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Chittenden (1951)||Deliberate|
|USA||Japan||1845||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||Centre for Invasive Species Ecosystem Health (2016)||Deliberate|
|USA||Korea, Republic of||1794||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||Centre for Invasive Species Ecosystem Health (2016)||Deliberate|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
L. lucidum is a common horticultural plant which was planted for ornamental purposes and for use as hedges worldwide. This species is readily available from nurseries, as such, most introductions are intentional. L. lucidum can easily escape cultivation invading neighbouring areas in temperate humid conditions. A PIER (2016) risk assessment for Australia gave this species a reject score of 11. Assessment for the Pacific however, gave this species a score of 6 (PIER, 2016).
HabitatTop of page
L. lucidum prefers warm and humid environments (700 to 1600 mm rainfall) in sub-tropical and temperate regions (van Oosterhout et al., 2016; Queensland Government, 2016). However it can be also found in tropical and temperate areas. It is found in a wide range of habits such as open woodlands, grasslands, waste areas, in and around rainforests, waste areas, disturbed areas, alongside waterways and coastal cliffs (PIER, 2016; Queensland Government, 2016). L. lucidum is a shade tolerant species and therefore can invade closed forests (PIER, 2016). In New South Wales, Australia, it is invasive in rainforests, gullies and creek banks and in north-eastern and southern Victoria it is a problem in grasslands, woodlands and areas of riparian vegetation (Queensland Government, 2016). In New Zealand it is present in waste places, coastal cliffs and in gardnes (Webb et al., 1988). In Argentina, Pyracantha angustifolia shows a nurse-plant effect on L. lucidum, enhancing sapling survival (Tecco et al., 2006; Tecco et al., 2007). Condalia montana and other spiny shrubs also facilitate L. lucidum establishment but with less success (Tecco et al., 2007).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Urban / peri-urban areas||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Rocky areas / lava flows||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Scrub / shrublands||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
L. lucidum reproduces primarily by the production of a large number of seeds (Swarbrick et al., 1999); annually up to 1-3 million seeds can be produced per tree in mature stands (van Aalst, 1992). Fruit production can vary largely between years depending on climate conditions and masting (Westoby et al., 1983). During initial stages, seeds have extremely high viability (>90%) (Swarbrick et al., 1999). Flowering in L. lucidum is limited on trees bellow 7 cm thick at the base (van Aalst, 1992). The flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insects (PFAF, 2016).
L. lucidum can also spread vegetatively by re-sprouting from stems and producing suckers at the tree base (Ferreras et al., 2008; Swarbrick et al., 1999). Both sexual and vegetative strategies have been seen in the native and introduced ranges. For instance, Lichstein et al. (2004) described that most recruitment of L. lucidum in montane forest of north-western Argentina appears to be from sprouting from the roots. Stem cuttings also stimulate re-growth under a wide range of light availability (Swarbrick et al., 1999); most horticultural varieties are propagated using stem cuttings (Swarbrick et al., 1999).
Physiology and Phenology
L. lucidum is a perennial with long flowering and fruit periods. In the northern hemisphere it flowers between April and June, while fruits can remain until late winter (Nesom, 2009; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). Germination in L. lucidum is inhibited unless the fleshy mesocarp of the seed is removed and sufficient humidity is present (Burrows and Kohen, 1986; van Aalst, 1992). Optimum germination temperature for the species is 15°C. Temperatures above 30°C seem to completely inhibit germination (Burrows and Kohen, 1986).Germination of seeds is completed after 42 days (Burrows and Kohen, 1986).
Plants of L. lucidum may live for up to a century. However, reaching senescence the tree produces suckers around the base which ultimately will result in new growth and new individuals (Swarbrick et al., 1999).
In its native range, L. lucidum occurs in woods below 2900 m altitude (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). It prefers warm and humid environments (700 to 1600 mm rainfall) in sub-tropical and temperate regions (van Oosterhout et al., 2016; Queensland Government, 2016). However it can be also found in tropical and temperate areas. It is not very demanding in terms of soil conditions as it can grow well both in sand or clay soils. Very poor sandstone soils might reduce its performance whilst high phosphorous levels can increase its growth (Swarbrick et al., 1999). It prefers moderate to high levels of moisture throughout the year. Although it can establish well in temporally wet soils with partial defoliation during dry season, the species will perform better in areas with significantly higher rainfall or runoff than average (Swarbrick et al., 1999). L. lucidum is tolerant of shade, partial shade and full-sun conditions (Gavier-Pizarro et al., 2012). However it rarely establishes in an open habitat (Aragón and Groom, 2003). It has higher establishment success with some canopy cover due to enhanced dispersal (i.e. abundance of bird perches) and greater germination rates (Aragón and Groom, 2003). Although seedlings can survive under dense shade, they will require forest gaps or low density forest to grow and outcompete rest of species (Swarbrick et al., 1999). In general, initial establishment of L. lucidum is enhanced by local disturbance, as it provides both better light and soil conditions.
ClimateTop of page
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Tolerated||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Tolerated||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
|Df - Continental climate, wet all year||Tolerated||Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Tolerated||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
|Dw - Continental climate with dry winter||Tolerated||Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-15||-10|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||700||1600||mm; lower/upper limits|
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
The leaves of Ligustrum species are high in phenolic compounds that defend against herbivores, especially insects. The compounds work by inhibiting digestive enzymes and proteins (Batcher, 2000). A literature review suggested that there were up to 99 different invertebrates attacking species of Ligustrum (McGregor, 2000). Both sheep and cattle graze on the foliage of Ligustrum species, but in large amounts it can be poisonous (Swarbrick et al., 1999; Tecco et al., 2007).
According to Farr and Rossman (2016) there are a total of 58 fungal-plant associations recorded from both the native and introduced ranges.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Seeds of L. lucidum may be dispersed over short distances by water in waterways (PIER, 2016; Queensland Government, 2016). When reaching senescence L. lucidum produces suckers around the base of the trunk which result in new growth and new individuals (Swarbrick et al., 1999).
In Australia and Argentina, birds have been observed dispersing seeds of L. lucidum (Montaldo, 1993; Swarbrick et al., 1999; Ferreras et al., 2008). In Argentina, L. lucidum is a major food source for birds during the winter (Ferreras et al., 2008). Seed dispersal by birds from gardens to secondary forests or abandoned land is the most common way of introduction (Gavier-Pizarro et al., 2012). Ants have also been identified as a potential secondary dispersal vector of seeds in Argentina; ants dispose the seed without the pulp, probably enhancing germination rates (Ferreras et al., 2008).
Seeds of L. lucidum may be accidentally introduced into new areas by the dumping of garden waste (Queensland Government, 2016).
L. lucidum is widely planted as an ornamental in temperate regions around the world. Despite the naturalization of the species in many areas, it is still a commercial species in Europe and the USA.
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Breeding and propagation||Widely used as ornamental and hedge plants||Yes||Swarbrick et al. (1999)|
|Digestion and excretion||Seeds are dispersed by birds||Yes||Aragón and Groom (2003)|
|Escape from confinement or garden escape||Widely used as ornamental and hedge plants||Yes||Swarbrick et al. (1999)|
|Garden waste disposal||Widely used as ornamental and hedge plants||Yes||Swarbrick et al. (1999)|
|Hedges and windbreaks||Widely used as ornamental and hedge plants||Yes||Swarbrick et al. (1999)|
|Horticulture||Widely used as ornamental and hedge plants||Yes||Swarbrick et al. (1999)|
|Internet sales||Widely used as ornamental and hedge plants||Yes||Swarbrick et al. (1999)|
|Landscape improvement||Widely used as ornamental and hedge plants||Yes||Swarbrick et al. (1999)|
|Nursery trade||Widely used as ornamental and hedge plants||Yes||Swarbrick et al. (1999)|
|Ornamental purposes||Widely used as ornamental and hedge plants||Yes||Swarbrick et al. (1999)|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Economic/livelihood||Positive and negative|
|Human health||Positive and negative|
Economic ImpactTop of page
In Australia and New Zealand, L. lucidum has become abundant on abandoned land and ruderal habitats where mature trees can affect power and telephone lines (McGregor, 2000). L. lucidum has also been associated with livestock poisoning from leaves and fruits. However, evidence of such problems is not clear (Swarbrick et al., 1999).
Several species of Ligustrum have been reported as a reservoir for pests in tropical and temperate crops (McGregor, 2000; Coombs, 2004). The flowers of Ligustrum species also attract a wide range of pollinators which may reduce pollination of important crops such as kiwifruit (McGregor, 2000). Furthermore, honey from such flowers might have a strong smell due to trimethylamine in the nectar. This distinct feature can affect the quality of honey and have an impact on beekeepers activity (Swarbrick et al., 1999; McGregor, 2000).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Biodiversity
As a result of its rapid growth, ability to produce a large number of seed and ability to regenerate vegetatively, L. lucidum can form dense impenetrable thickets. These thickets can outcompete native species by reducing the light availability and competing for resources (Swarbrick et al., 1999; Lichstein et al., 2004; Ferreras et al., 2008; Aragón et al., 2014). Other potential consequences of L. lucidum invasion may include changes in nutrient cycling, soil properties and disturbance regimes (Hoyos et al., 2010). In Argentina, these habitat changes can derive in extremely low regeneration of native plant species and a biodiversity reduction across all taxa (Hoyos et al., 2010; Lichstein et al., 2004). Similarly in Australia and New Zealand, L. lucidum has replaced mid-canopy forest trees such as Beilschmiedia taraire (taraire) and Metrosideros excels (pohutukawa) (Swarbrick et al., 1999).
In Argentina L. lucidum creates a more homogeneous and simple habitat which can have a negative impact on native bird diversity when compared to native forests (Ayup et al., 2014). On the other hand the prolific nature of L. lucidum might favour bird species that feed on them (Aguirre-Acosta et al., 2014). This is particularly relevant in forests in northern Argentina where the fruiting season is coupled with lower availability of native fruits (Montaldo, 1993; Aguirre-Acosta et al., 2014).
Social ImpactTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Tolerant of shade
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Has high reproductive potential
- Reproduces asexually
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Infrastructure damage
- Modification of nutrient regime
- Modification of successional patterns
- Monoculture formation
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts forestry
- Negatively impacts human health
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Causes allergic responses
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
- Pest and disease transmission
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
Due to its fast growth and wide tolerance to environmental conditions, L. lucidum and its varieties are widely used in horticulture for hedging and ornamental purposes (Csurhes and Edwards, 1998; Swarbrick et al., 1999).
L. lucidum can grow well in environments with high pollutant levels which makes it a good ornamental species for urban areas and a bioindicator of pollutants in cities (McGregor, 2000; Oliva and Valdés, 2004). The fruit (Nuzhenzi) is commonly used in the traditional Chinese medicine as a kidney tonic (Lin et al., 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). They are also used to cure fatigue and treat dropsy (Wiart, 2012). The anti-inflammatory properties and the inhibition of certain tumours from fruit extracts has been confirmed in rodents (An et al., 2007; Lin et al., 2007). In addition to this, the leaves are used to heal abscesses, cold, congestions and headaches (Wiart, 2012).
Uses ListTop of page
- Boundary, barrier or support
- Botanical garden/zoo
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
- Potted plant
- Propagation material
- Seed trade
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
L. lucidum is similar in appearance to a number of Ligustrum species. For example, L. japonicum is similar in appearance but the blades of the leaves of L. lucidum are smaller usually more ovate with fewer lateral veins 5(–6) (Nesom, 2006). It can be also confused with L. sinense however these can be distinguished from each other by the size of the leaves with leaves of L. sinense being much smaller;L. lucidum leaves 4-13 x 3-5 cm and L. sinense 2-5 x 1.5-2.5 cm. The leaves of L. vulgare have coarsely toothed margins and plants are smaller in height than L. lucidum.
It may be difficult to separate Ligustrum species once they escape into the wild, as identification depends on flowers. A key to species of Ligustrum in the middle southern USA is provided by Maddox et al. (2010).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
It is illegal to sell or plant L. lucidum in New Zealand and several states in Australia (e.g. New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia) (ENVBOP, 2005; Queensland Government, 2016). In the USA it is listed as an exotic plant pest in several southern states (Alabama, Florida and Georgia) (Centre for Invasive Species Ecosystem Health, 2016). In South Africa, the species is listed as Category 1 (plants must be removed and destroyed) in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Eastern and Western Cape, Gauteng and North West and Category 3 (plants can not be planted) in Free State and Northern Cape (Invasive Species South Africa, 2016).
Due to the ability to re-sprout, cutting and leaving the stumps of L. lucidum, without further treatment, has little effect (Mowatt, 1981). However, manual removal of small plants can be effective. Soil disturbance should be minimized to avoid further sprouting from root system (van Oosterhout et al., 2016).
Although fire is usually ineffective it can also be used during the dry season in combination with other methods (Swarbrick et al., 1999; van Oosterhout et al., 2016). In Australia, dry events together with prescriptive fire have allowed partial control of this species. Fire can kill small trees and saplings while bigger trees might require further treatment. Hot fires might also deplete the seed bank (Swarbrick et al., 1999).
The most common method to control L. lucidum is to cut the tree and apply a herbicide (McGregor, 2000). Stem injections are suitable for large trees close to other vegetation (van Oosterhout et al., 2016) and stem injection using metsulfuron methyl seems to be the least costly (i.e. 40% cheaper than any other treatment) (Madden and Swarbrick, 1990). Among other chemicals, triclopyr was found to be more effective than hexazinone and glyphosate (Mowatt, 1981). In general, herbicides are most effective when applied during the active growing season. Van Oosterhout et al. (2016) provide further details on control methods.
ReferencesTop of page
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25/02/2016 Original text by:
P. González-Moreno, CABI
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