Large-leaved Privet

Latin Name: Ligustrum lucidum

Flowering branch. Image from Wikispecies

Flowering branch. Image from Wikispecies

Origin: Native of China.

lternative Name(s): Large-leaved Privet.

Family: Oleaceae.

Known Hazards: The fruit is mildly toxic. Although no other reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, it is quite probable that other parts of the plant also contain toxins.

Habitat: Roadsides and in river valleys.

Edibility Rating: 1 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Shrub or tree to 12 metres tall. Berry 6–8 mm long, purple-black and succulent when ripe. Seeds dark-brown, finely pitted, about 5 mm long. Fruits in autumn and winter.
Flowers: Flowerhead dense, branched (panicle) 15–25 cm long. Flowers fragrant with 4 white petals, each 3–5 mm long. Flowers mostly in summer.The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects

Fruiting adult. Lavander Bay, NSW. Image by Tony

Fruiting adult. Lavander Bay, NSW. Image by Tony

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by plants being hairless; small branches with whitish corky areas—pores in stem—through which gaseous exchange takes place (lenticels); leaves 4–13 cm long, 3–6 cm wide on stalks 1–2 cm long. Leaves ovate to elliptic, leaf edges without teeth or lobes, paler green on lower surface.

Dispersal: Fruit eaten by birds, especially Currawongs, and seeds dispersed in their droppings.

Edible Uses

Young shoots – cooked. A famine food, used when all else fails. The shoots contain a glycoside and are probably toxic.

privet L

Medicinal Uses

Anodyne; Antiseptic; Antitumor; Cardiotonic; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Miscellany; Ophthalmic; PectoralTonic; Vulnerary. Chinese privet has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 1,000 years. The fruit is antibacterial, antiseptic, antitumour, cardiotonic, diuretic and tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of complaints associated with weak kidney and liver energy such as menopausal problems (especially premature menopause), blurred vision, cataracts, tinnitus, rheumatic pains, palpitations, backache and insomnia. Modern research has shown that the plant increases the white blood cell count and is of value when used to prevent bone marrow loss in cancer chemotherapy patients, it also has potential in the treatment of AIDS. Extracts of the plant show antitumour activity. Good results have also been achieved when the fruit has been used in treating respiratory tract infections, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease and hepatitis. The fruit is harvested when fully ripe and is dried for later use. It is often decocted with other herbs in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments and also as a general tonic. Some caution is advised in their use, since the fruits are toxic when eaten in quantity. The leaves are anodyne, diaphoretic, febrifuge, pectoral and vulnerary. The bark of the stems is diaphoretic.

Other Uses

Hedge; Wax. A commercial insect wax is produced on the branches as a result of eggs being laid by insects. Another report says that the wax is produced by the plant due to the stimulation of the feeding insects. Yet another report says that the wax is produced by the insects. It is used for candles and as a polish for earthenware pots, book edges etc. The plant can be used as a hedge. It is very amenable to trimming.

Notes: Was cultivated in 1857 at Camden Park, probably as a hedge plant. Now a widespread weed of coastal bush and wasteland; also extending to the western slopes of NSW and adjacent areas in Old. Pollen of this plant is spread by insects and is unlikely to cause allergic reactions in humans. Leaves and berries are suspected of poisoning stock and berries of poisoning children but there is no proof of toxicity. Broad-leaved Privet invades bushland, especially along streams. It effectively stops bank erosion, but outcompetes native streambank vegetation. Pale timber has potential for light furniture manufacture.

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