Native to China.
Occurs most densely in open disturbed areas, especially low wet places, but also invades less disturbed upland hammocks and pinelands, river and stream floodplains, lake shores, and edges of swamps and marshes, often becoming locally abundant even in deep shade. Has moved into undisturbed relict slope hammock, threatening to displace the globally endangered Miccosukee gooseberry, Ribes echinellum (K. C. Burks, Fl. Department of Environmental Protection, personal observations). Chinese privet is listed as a Category 1 invasive by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.
Semi-deciduous shrub or small tree to 12 ft tall or more. Twigs densely pubescent. Leaves opposite, simple (on long twigs, at first glance, may appear compound), all green (in cultivation usually variegated, cream-white and green). Leaf blades to 1.5 inch long and 0.75 inch wide, elliptic to elliptic-oblong, with tips blunt, margins entire, and pubescence persistent on midvein below, petioles short, pubescent. Flowers many, white, small, somewhat unpleasantly fragrant, on slender pubescent stalks in narrow, conical panicles, terminal on branchlets. Fruits dark blue or bluish-black drupes, ellipsoid to subglobose, mostly 4-5 mm (0.2 in) long.
May be confused with native privets (Foresteria spp.), but their leaves have small marginal teeth or their leaves without petioles; and the native Walter’s viburnum (Viburnum obovatum Walt.), but its young stem tips are covered with rust-colored scales.
In 1852, privet was introduced to the United States for use as an ornamental shrub and is still commonly used as a hedge.
Throughout all of Florida.
Do Not Plant. Remove existing plants before they produce fruit. Hand pull small seedlings and young plants with taken to remove the entire root. Repeated mowing and cutting. Cut and apply herbicide to the stump.