Ligustrum ovalifolium Hassk.

California privet

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

California privet is a leggy shrub with glossy green, oval, opposite leaves and white flowers (bloom time June-July) that attract butterflies and later mature into black berries. It is introduced in North America from Japan, and occurs in Massachusetts and Connecticut; the latter state considers it potentially invasive because it can easily self-seed and form thickets.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), forest edges, forests

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
Growth form
the plant is a shrub (a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
Leaf type
the leaf blade is simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaves per node
there are two leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
Leaf duration
  • the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
  • the leaves remain green all winter
armature on plant
the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns
Leaf blade length
30–60 mm
Leaf blade width
10–20 mm
Leaf stalk
the leaves have leaf stalks
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is fleshy
Bark texture
the bark of an adult plant is thin and smooth
Twig winter color
  • brown
  • orange
Bud scale number
there are two scales on the winter bud, and their edges meet
Show All Characteristics
  • Buds or leaf scars
    Bud scale number
    there are two scales on the winter bud, and their edges meet
    Bud scar shape (Fraxinus)
    NA
    Collateral buds
    there are no collateral buds on the sides of the branches
    Superposed buds
    there are no superposed buds on the branch
  • Flowers
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Enlarged sterile flowers
    there are no enlarged sterile flowers on the plant
    Flower petal color
    white
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Hairs on ovary (Amelanchier)
    NA
    Hypanthium present
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is a panicle (branched with the individual flowers on stalks)
    Number of pistils
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are fused to form a tube, cup, or bell shape
    Sepal cilia (Ilex)
    NA
    Stamen number
    1 or 2
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    • NA
    • black
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is fleshy
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a drupe (fleshy, with a firm inner ovary wall that encloses a single seed)
    Nut with spines (Fagaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    there are no wings on the fruit
  • Glands or sap
    Sap color
    the sap is clear and watery
    Stalked glands on fruit (Rosa)
    NA
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is a shrub (a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
  • Leaves
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
    Leaf blade edges (Acer)
    NA
    Leaf blade hairs
    NA
    Leaf blade length
    30–60 mm
    Leaf blade scales
    there are no scales on the leaf blades
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade translucent dots
    there are no translucent dots on the leaf blade
    Leaf blade width
    10–20 mm
    Leaf duration
    • the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
    • the leaves remain green all winter
    Leaf lobe tips (Quercus)
    NA
    Leaf midrib glands
    the midrib of the leaf blade lacks glands on the upper surface
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk nectaries
    there are no nectaries on the leaf stalk
    Leaf teeth
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf teeth hairs (Carya)
    NA
    Leaf type
    the leaf blade is simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaves per node
    there are two leaves per node along the stem
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • forests
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of an odor, or it has an unpleasant or repellant odor
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Aerial roots
    the plant has no aerial roots
    Bark texture
    the bark of an adult plant is thin and smooth
    Branch brittleness (willows only)
    NA
    Branch cross-section
    the branch is circular in cross-section, or it has five or more sides, so that there are no sharp angles
    First-year cane (Rubus)
    NA
    Pith shape
    the outline of the pith in a twig is roughly round
    Twig papillae (Vaccinium species only)
    NA
    Twig winter color
    • brown
    • orange
    Wings on branch
    the branch does not have wings on it
    armature on plant
    the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

No

Sometimes Confused With

Ligustrum vulgare

Family

Oleaceae

Genus

Ligustrum

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Ligustrum ovalifolium Hassk. E

California privet. CT, MA. Roadsides, forest edges and fragments, areas of habitation.