Shrub 3.5 - 4.5 m tall and wide Leaves: opposite, short-stalked, dark green, 2.5 - 6 cm long, 0.5 - 1.5 cm wide, oblong egg-shaped to lance-shaped with a rounded to pointed tip, glossy. Leaves turning purplish in autumn. Flowers: borne in a dense, terminal, branched inflorescence, white, small, tubular, with four petals. The flower tube is equal to or shorter than the lobes. The odor of the flowers is unpleasant. Fruit: a berry-like drupe, shiny black, 8.5 mm long, and spherical. Bark: light grayish brown and smooth. Twigs: green and minutely hairy when young, becoming gray and hairless with age. Form: stout with irregularly spreading branches.
Similar species: Without flowers, this species can be difficult to distinguish from Ligustrum obtusifolium, which has a flower tube two to three times as long as the lobes. In general, the leaves of L. obtusifolium are more blunt-tipped and oblong than those of L. vulgare.
Habitat and ecology: Introduced from Europe and cultivated in the Chicago Region. Occasional in woods, where birds are responsible for its dispersal. Other habitats include vacant lots, old fields, dunes, and along fences. Also found along rivers and other moist sites.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Notes: Anthracnose twig blight (Glomerella cingulata) is serious on this species.
Etymology: Ligustrum is the Latin word for privet. Vulgare means common.
Much branched shrub to 5 m, with dark green, elliptic to ovate, long-persistent but eventually deciduous lvs commonly 2-4 cm; cor-tube wide, almost campanulate,
2.5-3 mm, about as long as the lobes; filaments mostly included or barely exsert; twigs minutely puberulent; 2n=46. Native of Europe; our most commonly cult. and escaped sp. June.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.