Ligustrum sinense

Ligustrum sinense.

Previously cultivated, the Small or Narrow leaved Privet from China is now widely naturalised in S.E. Queensland.
It is a restricted plant and is one of the top 25 invasive species in Queensland.
They can form impenetrable thickets due to their ability to sucker from roots and damaged stems and their dense branching.

They are multi-stemmed shrubs usually 2 to 3 m high but can grow to small trees 5 or 6 m high.
Fine hairs on young twigs are gradually lost leaving a smooth grey-brown surface.

The opposite ovate to elliptic leaves, up to 7 cm long by 3 cm wide are on a petiole 3 to 8 mm long.
Leaves on side branches that have flowers may be only 2 cm by 1 cm.
The dark green blades have a round to heart-shaped base, a pointed tip and the smooth edge is often wavy.

Leaves may have a few hairs on the lower midrib or all over the lower surface.
Others can have dense hairs on the lower surface and a few on the upper.

Inflorescences are terminal on the main branches and short axillary side branches.
The densely branched panicles, up to 11 cm long have small flowers on stalks (pedicels) up to 5 mm long.
There are dense simple hairs on the panicle branches and pedicels.

The calyx tube, with 4 tiny lobes or a flattish top is 1.5 mm long.
The fused petal bases form a 1 mm long corolla tube with 4 lobes 2 mm long on the rim. Petals are white.
The 2 stamens, inserted onto the corolla tube extend past the corolla.
The superior ovary has 2 ovules in each of the 2 locules but up to 3 may abort.

The 5 to 8 mm long ovoid fruit mature from green to dark purplish-blue or black.
Labelled as berries and drupes they are fleshy and indehiscent.

Strictly speaking a berry is a fleshy fruit with several seeds derived from a single ovary but is it is often loosely used.
A drupe is typically a fleshy fruit with 1 (or loosely speaking 2) seed in a hard woody coat.
With 1 to 4 seeds a privet fruit could be called drupaceous – drupe-like.

There are varieties with white edged greyish leaves, denser flowers or drooping branches.

J.F.