Ligustrum obtusifolium (border 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
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Ligustrum obtusifolium Siebold & Zucc.
Preferred Common Name
- border privet
Other Scientific Names
- Ligustrum amurense Carrière
- Ligustrum ciliatum var. spathulatum Blume
- Ligustrum ibota f. angustifolium (Blume) Nakai
- Ligustrum ibota f. obtusifolium (Siebold & Zucc.) Koidz.
- Ligustrum ibota f. tschonoskii (Nakai) Nakai
- Ligustrum ibota var. amurense (Carrière) Mansf.
- Ligustrum ibota var. angustifolium Blume
- Ligustrum ibota var. diabolicum Koidz.
- Ligustrum ibota var. obovatum Blume
- Ligustrum ibota var. obtusifolium (Siebold & Zucc.) Koidz.
- Ligustrum ibota var. regelianum (Koehne) Siebold ex Beissn., Schelle & Zabel
- Ligustrum ibota var. suave Kitag.
- Ligustrum ibota var. tschonoskii Nakai
- Ligustrum ibota var. velutinum Blume
- Ligustrum obtusifolium f. leiocalyx (Nakai) Murata
- Ligustrum obtusifolium f. velutinum (Blume) Murata
- Ligustrum obtusifolium subsp. suave (Kitag.) Kitag.
- Ligustrum obtusifolium var. amurense (Carrière) Mansf.
- Ligustrum obtusifolium var. leiocalyx (Nakai) H.Hara
- Ligustrum obtusifolium var. regelianum (Koehne) Rehder
- Ligustrum obtusifolium var. rubescens Nakai
- Ligustrum obtusifolium var. velutinum (Blume) H.Hara
- Ligustrum regelianum Koehne
- Ligustrum suave (Kitag.) Kitag.
- Ligustrum tschonoskii var. leiocalyx Nakai
International Common Names
- English: amur privet; blunt-leaved privet; japanese deciduous privet; obtuse-leaved privet; regal privet
- French: troène à feuilles obtuses; troène obtusifolium
Local Common Names
- China: dong ya nu zhen; liao dong shui la shu
- Germany: liguster; stumpfblättriger
- Japan: ibota-no-ki
- LIGOB (Ligustrum obtusifolium)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
L. obtusifolium is a deciduous shrub native to Japan, China and Korea. It has been introduced widely into the USA where it has established in stream valleys, old fields, forest gaps and disturbed urban and suburban forest remnants. It is listed as invasive in several states in the USA including Indiana, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. L. obtusifolium forms dense thickets which can be difficult to control and may alter habitats and outcompete native plant species. A number of Ligustrum species, such as L. vulgare and L. sinense, are also known to be invasive.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Oleales
- Family: Oleaceae
- Genus: Ligustrum
- Species: Ligustrum obtusifolium
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
L. obtusifolium Siebold & Zucc. (1846) is the accepted name for the species. L. obtusifolium is one of 45 species in the genus Ligustrum L. (1753) (Flora of China Editorial Comittee, 2014). It is a member of the family Oleaceae which includes 787 species of woody plants.
The variability of the pubescence (pubescent to glabrous) of the branchlets has, in part, led to 30 different synonyms (Nesom, 2009; The Plant List, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2014) and taxonomic conflation and naming confusion with L. ibota. The genus Ligustrum has been the subject of repeated reviews in the past (Green, 1990; Green, 1995) and the current opinion is that the distinctions between species in Ligustrum are small.
L. obtusifolium has one accepted form, L. obtusifolium subsp. microphyllum (Nakai) P.S.Green.
In many case the name L. obtusifolium subsp. obtusifolium refers to the indigenous species found in Japan. L. obtusifolium subsp. suave is often used to refer to L. obtusifoium found in China, Korea and the Amur region of Russia (Nesom, 2009).
Ligustrum, from the latin word ligo, means to bind and its slender and flexible twigs having been used as bands or bindings. Ligustrum is also the classical Latin name for Privets. Obtusifolium is derived from the Latin obtusus meaning ‘blunt’ and folium meaning ‘leaf’.
DescriptionTop of page
Deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub that grows from 8-20 ft. tall. Leaves: opposite, simple, entire, short-stalked, ranging in length from 2.54-7.6 cm and varying in shape from oval, elliptic to oblong. Shrubs 0.5-3 m, deciduous and many branched. Branchlets minutely pilose to pubescent or puberulent. Petiole 1-2 mm, glabrous or pubescent; leaf blade oblong, oblong-lanceolate, elliptic, ovate to long obovate-elliptic, or oblanceolate, 0.8-6 × 0.4-2.5 cm, papery, scattered pilose to glabrous or sparsely pubescent, base cuneate or broadly so, apex acute or obtuse, mucronulate, sometimes slightly retuse; primary veins 3-5(-7) on each side of midrib, often obscure or abaxially slightly raised. Panicles terminal, 1.5-4 × 1.5-3 cm, densely flowered. Pedicel 0-2 mm, puberulent, pubescent or glabrous. Calyx 1-2 mm, puberulent, pubescent, or glabrous. Corolla 5-10 mm; tube 1.5-2.5 × as long as lobes. Stamens reaching about middle of corolla lobes; anthers lanceolate, 2-3 mm. Fruit purple-black, subglobose to broadly ellipsoid, 5-8 × 4-6 mm. Fl. May-Jun, fr. Aug-Oct (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014).
Plant TypeTop of page Broadleaved
DistributionTop of page
L. obtusifolium is native to the mountains of Japan, China and Korea (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014). It has been introduced widely into the USA, into Colombia and Egypt and is also present in Austria and Germany where it has been reported as an ornamental in Vienna and Berlin (Sukopp, 2006; Kelcey and Müller, 2011).
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.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Heilongjiang||Present||Native||Not invasive||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014||Hills, gullies, woods;100-600m|
|-Jiangsu||Present||Native||Not invasive||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014||Hills, gullies, woods;100-600m|
|-Liaoning||Present||Native||Not invasive||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014||Hills, gullies, woods;100-600m|
|-Shandong||Present||Native||Not invasive||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014||Hills, gullies, woods;100-600m|
|-Zhejiang||Present||Native||Not invasive||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014||Hills, gullies, woods;100-600m|
|Japan||Present||Native||Not invasive||Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014||Hills, gullies, woods;100-600m|
|-Hokkaido||Present||Native||Not invasive||USDA-ARS, 2014|
|-Honshu||Present||Native||Not invasive||USDA-ARS, 2014|
|-Kyushu||Present||Native||Not invasive||USDA-ARS, 2014|
|-Shikoku||Present||Native||Not invasive||USDA-ARS, 2014|
|Korea, Republic of||Present||Native||Not invasive||USDA-ARS, 2014|
|USA||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Alabama||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2014||Listed as L. amurense|
|-Arkansas||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2014||Listed as L. amurense|
|-California||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||Not invasive||USGS, 2014||One specimen collected in 2006|
|-Indiana||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||Invasive Plant Assessment Working Group, IPSAWG; USDA-NRCS, 2014|
|-Maine||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2014||Listed as L. amurense|
|-Maryland||Present||Introduced||Hubick and Brighton, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2014||Present in four counties|
|-New Hampshire||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||USDA-NRCS, 2014|
|-New Jersey||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2014|
|-New York||Present||Introduced||Invasive||USDA-NRCS, 2014; Weldy et al., 2014|
|-North Carolina||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2014|
|-Rhode Island||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2014|
|-South Carolina||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2014||Listed as L. amurense|
|-Texas||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS, 2014||Listed as L. amurense|
|-Virginia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Wieboldt, Ed; USDA-NRCS, 2014; Virginia Native Plant Society, 2014|
|-Washington||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||Not invasive||USGS, 2014||Specimen at the University of Washington|
|Austria||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||Not invasive||Kelcey and Müller, 2011|
|Germany||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||Not invasive||Sukopp, 2006||Reported in Berlin Arboretum 1904|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
L. obtusifolium is reportedly found in the Amur river area of the Russian Far East and was sent to St. Petersburg, Russia and thence to Paris, France (Faxon, 1903).
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Canada||1904||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Saunders (1904)||Recommended for hardiness. Introduced into Manitoba and Ontario|
|Indiana||1918||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Hedges (1918)||Recommended for hardiness; likely introduced prior to 1918|
|USA||Japan||1860||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Wyman (1938)|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Accidental introduction of L. obtusifolium into new areas is unlikely. However, deliberate introduction into new areas is more likely as the species is part of the ornamental plant trade and readily available for sale on the internet. Once introduced to a region, the seeds can be dispersed by birds. In temperate climates L. obtusifolium may fruit prolifically (USDA Forest Service, 2005; Gleditsch and Carlo, 2010).
HabitatTop of page
L. obtusifolium grows best in full sun to light shade. It can be found in woodland and forest edges, roadways, old fields and disturbed areas in moist to dry-mesic conditions.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Rail / roadsides||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
A diploid number of 2n = 46 has been recorded for L. obtusifolium (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014).
L. obtusifolium reproduces by seed and can also regenerate and spread from root and stump re-sproutings. A study by Gleditsch and Carlo (2010) found L. obtusifolium to have the second highest total fruit crop in central Pennsylvania after Lonicera species.
Physiology and Phenology
L. obtusifolium flowers from late spring to early summer and lasts for about one to one and a half weeks. The fruits replace the flowers and mature in late summer to early autumn.
The flowers of L. obtusifolium attract honeybees (Apis species) and other bees, the red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) and other local butterflies and moths.
L. obtusifolium can grow in soils containing loam or clay-loam, but is highly tolerant of other soil types such as light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay). It is tolerant of a wide pH range, from acidic through neutral to alkaline soils (PFAF, 2014).
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|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||-38||-1.1|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Bimodal
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Agrotis ipsilon||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific||Wynne et al., 1991|
|Asphondylia sphaera||Herbivore||Uechi and Yukawa, 2006|
|Ceratomia undulosa||Herbivore||Leaves||Hilty, 2014|
|Dolbina tancrei||Herbivore||Konno et al., 2009|
|Lepidosaphes kuwacola||Herbivore||Ben-Dov et al., 2013|
|Macrophya punctumalbum||Herbivore||Swearingen et al., 2010|
|Macrosiphum gei||Herbivore||Hilty, 2014|
|Oceanaspidiotus spinosus||Herbivore||Ben-Dov et al., 2013|
|Podosesia syringae||Herbivore||Stems||Hilty, 2014|
|Pseudocercospora ligustri||Pathogen||Leaves||Swearingen et al., 2010|
|Rhizobium radiobacter||Pathogen||Roots||Swearingen et al., 2010|
|Sphinx chersis||Herbivore||Leaves||Hilty, 2014|
|Sphinx kalmiae||Herbivore||Leaves||Hilty, 2014|
|Trichaltica scabricula||Herbivore||Hilty, 2014|
|Tylonotus bimaculatus||Herbivore||Stems||Hilty, 2014|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
The leaves of L. obtusifolium contain an iridoid glycoside that deters many generalist herbivores (Konno et al., 2009). However, a number of natural enemies have been recorded. These include the moths Ceratomia undulosa, Sphinx chersis and S. kalmiae which are known to feed on the leaves (Hilty, 2014). The caterpillars of Podosesia syringae and the larvae of the beetle Tylonotus bimaculatus which feed on the woody stems have also been recorded (Hilty, 2014).
A number of other insects feeding on L. obtusifolium have been recorded and include Agrotis ipsilon, Asphondylia sphaera, Dolbina tancrei,Lepidosaphes kuwacola, Oceanaspidiotus spinosus,Macrosiphum gei, Macrophya punctumalbum, Philtraea elegantaria and Trichaltica scabricula (Wynne et al., 1991; Uechi and Yukawa, 2006; Konno et al., 2009, Swearingen et al., 2010; Ben-Dov et al., 2013, Hilty, 2014). The pathogens Agrobacterium tumefaciens [Rhizobium radiobacter] and Pseudocercospora ligustri have also been reported (Swearingen et al., 2010).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
The fruits of L. obtusifolium are dispersed by birds (Serviss, 2014). Swearingen et al. (2010) reports that birds and other animals can excrete the seeds undamaged where they can germinate to produce new plants. It has been suggested that the berries the berries are eaten to a limited extent by the eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis), the American tree sparrow (Spizella arborea) and the cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) (Martin et al., 1951; Hilty, 2014).
L. obtusifolium has been intentionally introduced to a number of countries around the word as an ornamental plant (Maddox et al., 2010).
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
Environmental ImpactTop of page
L. obtusifolium can form dense thickets which can alter habitats and enable establishment of new stands (Swearingen et al., 2010). These thickets can outcompete and inhibit indigenous species in North America decreasing biodiversity (Swearingen et al., 2010).
Social ImpactTop of page
All parts of L. obtusifolium are toxic to humans causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain (Wagstaff, 2008). It is also toxic towards a number of mammalian herbivores including horses.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- 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)
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Reproduces asexually
- Altered trophic level
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Modification of natural benthic communities
- Modification of successional patterns
- Monoculture formation
- Reduced amenity values
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - shading
- Interaction with other invasive species
- Rapid growth
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
L. obtusifolium is widely sold in the landscape industry as an inexpensive, cold-hardy hedge species that withstands heavy trimming and shaping. For example, L. obtusifolium was suggested for highway landscape plantings in New York State (Francis, 1919).
Uses ListTop of page
- Boundary, barrier or support
- Christmas tree
- Cut flower
- garden plant
- Potted plant
- Propagation material
- Seed trade
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
L. obtusifolium is often mistaken for a number of species within the genus Ligustrum, including L. vulgare and L. sinense. A key and morphological descriptions to distinguish between these species and other Ligustrum species naturalized in North America can be found in Nesom (2009).
It has been reported that it is very difficult to distinguish between L. vulgare and L. obtusifolium (Hilty, 2014). It has been suggested that the young twigs of L. obtusifolium are more hairy than L. vulgare (Hassler, 2015).
L. sinense has petioles that are 2-8 mm long and corollas where the tube is shorter than the lobes (in some instances, the tube may equal in length to the lobes, but not longer). The corolla of L. sinense is 3.5-5.5 mm long (Nesom, 2009).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
L. obtusifolium can be controlled by mowing, cutting, removing seedlings and by burning. Stems should be cut at least once per growing season as close to ground level as possible.
Herbicide applications by foliar spraying in late autumn or early spring with glyphosate, triclopyr, or metsulfuron can be used to treat L. obtusifolium. In addition to this cut stump applications using glyphosate or triclopyr and basal bark applications of triclopyr are also recommended (Douce et al., 2005). Treatment of the basal 12–15 inches of woody stem with triclopyr in oil is another alternative (Rhoads and Block, 2011).
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
More research is required to determine the effects of L. obtusifolium on the environment. Phylogenetic research is also needed to establish species and subordinate taxa ranks.
ReferencesTop of page
Ben-Dov Y, Miller DR, Gibson GAP, 2013. ScaleNet: a database of the scale insects of the world. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: United States Department of Agriculture. http://www.sel.barc.usda.gov/scalenet/scalenet.htm
Brand (Ed) M, 2001. Ligustrum obtusifolium. UConn Plant Database. Connecticut, USA: University of Connecticut. http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/detail.php?pid=254
Douce GK, Moorhead DJ, Bargeron CT, Reardon RC, 2005. Invasive.org: a Web-based Image Archive and Database System Focused on North American Exotic and Invasive Species. In: Proceedings, XV USDA interagency research forum on gypsy moth and other invasive species 2004, XV [ed. by Gottschalk, K. W.]. Pennsylvania, USA: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station, 25 pp
Faxon CE, 1903. Trees and shrubs: illustrations of new or little known ligneous plants. Sargent CS (ed). New York, USA: Houghton Mifflin Company
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Francis HR, 1919. Trees in roadside treatment. New York, USA: New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University, 102 pp
GBIF, 2014. GBIF data portal. Copenhagen, Denmark: Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). http://data.gbif.org
Gleditsch JM, Carlo TA, 2010. Fruit quantity of invasive shrubs predicts the abundance of common native avian frugivores in central Pennsylvania. Diversity and Distributions:1-10
Green PS, 1990. Ligustrum (Oleaceae) in Southern India. Kew Bulletin, 45:693-696
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Konno K, Hirayama C, Shinbo H, Nakamura M, 2009. Glycine addition improves feeding performance of non-specialist herbivores on the privet, Ligustrum obtusifolium: in vivo evidence for the physiological impacts of anti-nutritive plant defense with iridoid and insect adaptation with glycine. Applied Entomology and Zoology, 44(4):595-601. http://odokon.ac.affrc.go.jp/
Maddox V, Byrd J Jr, Serviss B, 2010. Identification and control of invasive privets (Ligustrum spp.) in the middle southern United States. Invasive Plant Science and Management, 3(4):482-488. http://www.wssa.net
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Serviss BE, 2014. Ligustrum amurense. Arkansas, USA: Henderson State University. https://www.hsu.edu/interior2.aspx?id=5488
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USDA Forest Service, 2005. Weed of the week - border privet. http://www.na.fs.fed.us/fhp/invasive_plants/weeds/border_privet.pdf
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Wyman D, 1938. Hedges, screens & windbreaks: their uses, selection and care. New York, USA: Whittlesey House, 249 pp
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ContributorsTop of page
22/06/2014 Original text by:
John Peter Thompson, Consultant, Maryland, USA
Distribution MapsTop of page
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