Wild Privet

Wild privet

Scientific name: Ligustrum vulgare
Wild privet is a shrub of hedgerows, woodlands and scrub, but is also a popular garden-hedge plant. It has white flowers in summer and matt-black berries in winter that are very poisonous.

Species information

Statistics

Height: 3-5m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

Wild privet is a common, semi-evergreen shrub of hedgerows, woodland edges and grassland scrub on well-drained calcareous soils. It is also commonly used for hedging in suburban gardens. White flowers appear from June, and black berries ripen in autumn. Although the berries are extremely poisonous to humans, they are eaten by thrushes and other birds.
Wild Privet is also the main foodplant of the Privet hawk-moth and provides cover for small birds and other animals.

How to identify

Wild privet has small, oval, glossy green leaves and smooth bark. Clusters of small white flowers appear at the ends of its twigs, and matt-black berries appear in the autumn.

Distribution

Grows wild across England, Wales and southern Scotland; planted in Northern Ireland.

Did you know?

The closely related, Garden privet, was introduced into the UK from Japan. It has been widely planted as a hedge shrub and appears on waste ground where garden rubbish is thrown away.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.