Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Chinese Privet, LIGUSTRUM SINENSE, leaves & flowers

from the May 6, 2012 Newsletter issued from the woods of the Loess Hill Region a few miles east of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

Using the strategy of grouping small flowers into large clusters to attract pollinators in our current ocean of shadowy greenness is the 10-ft-high (3m) bush or small tree shown above. You can see an individual flower below:

Chinese Privet, LIGUSTRUM SINENSE, flower

On an otherwise regular-looking flower, having only two stamens is fairly unusual -- unless you're in the Olive Family, the Oleaceae, which this plant is. It's a privet, a member of the genus Ligustrum, but there are many privet species.

This one is the Chinese Privet, LIGUSTRUM SINENSE, truly a native of China, but common enough in Mississippi to make the list on "Mississippi's 10 Worst Invasive Weeds," as you can see yourself at http://msucares.com/pubs/misc/m1194.html.

Despite its invasiveness, when you stand next to a Chinese Privet in full flower you have to admire the overwhelming perfumy fragrance its blossoms emit, and the sheer numbers and kinds of pollinators who visit the flowers. Even that 10-Worst page says that Chinese Privet's seeds are consumed by birds. Chinese Privet may be an invasive weed but at least it's contributing good works to the community.

Still, I've seen pure stands of Chinese Privet where not a native flowering plant was to be seen. The species can completely shove aside the natives. It's one of those good-news, bad-news things.