Ligustrum Species, Japanese Privet, Waxleaf Privet

Ligustrum japonicum

Family: Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ligustrum (lig-GUS-trum) (Info)
Species: japonicum (juh-PON-ih-kum) (Info)



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Seed is poisonous if ingested

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

From softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona

Canoga Park, California

Corning, California

Hayward, California

Oakley, California

San Diego, California

Wilmington, Delaware

Bartow, Florida

Boynton Beach, Florida

Hobe Sound, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Palm Coast, Florida

Riverview, Florida

Venice, Florida

Clarkston, Georgia

Eatonton, Georgia

Covington, Louisiana

Independence, Louisiana

Marrero, Louisiana

Monroe, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Springfield, Louisiana

Las Vegas, Nevada

Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

Oxford, North Carolina

Statesville, North Carolina

Wilmington, North Carolina

Ashland, Oregon

Grants Pass, Oregon

Rock Hill, South Carolina(2 reports)

Alice, Texas

Andrews, Texas

Austin, Texas

Beaumont, Texas

Copperas Cove, Texas

Corsicana, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Friendswood, Texas

Harker Heights, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

Spicewood, Texas

The Colony, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 13, 2017, lightyellow from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL wrote:

I have never seen the fruit ripen and I have never seen volunteer seedlings in Northeast FL so it might be less invasive here for whatever reason. The flowers do attract a lot of pollinators. Birds appreciate the shelter our large unpruned one (about 18+ feet) provides, stopping in it before going to the birdbath. Aside from pruning, the plants have required no care nor irrigation and have never been diseased.

Still, I wouldn't plant it in Florida. Forestiera segregata and Viburnum obovatum are both native evergreen hedges with similar performance. In 9b and below there is also Simpson's stopper. All in all, if it is not invasive in your garden you might as well keep it but I would not advocate adding it.


On Mar 21, 2016, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

One of the first plants I ever planted is Ligustrum japonicum. Its still in my yard near 40 years later. Its had some up and when I hadn't noticed I piled dirt too high around the base of the trunk one then went on a decline. Still,years later after fixing the problem its lush,about 10' tall with lower limbs pruned off. Not invasive at all in the bay area for me. Actually makes a nice small scale leaf contrast with exotic or tropical type plants. Limbs do have a habit of dying,and an old trunk isn't the nicest looking in the world. Still,easy care,low water needs make it still a great landscape plant.


On Mar 21, 2016, FlyPoison from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is a 'garbage plant' biologically speaking if being grown out of it's native country. It's invasive and can be aggressive with the ability to alter entire ecosystems. Please, for the sake of future generations, avoid planting any non-native Ligustrum species.


On May 3, 2015, Stacycmc from Monroe, LA wrote:

I love this tree. Perhaps my variety differs though because the only mess my tree makes is in the spring millions of little white/cream petals snow down on my patio, but I actually don't mind and think it's a beautiful sight! The smell is amazing and in spring the bees love it, but never have problems with them. I also do not find it invasive at all. I have no sprigs that need to be cut constantly, I don't think I've even had to cut one shoot in the 2 years we've been here. It's amazing. I actually have 2 of these and love them both. Bith are wonderful and none are invasive.


On Jul 11, 2012, dibro from New Albany, MS wrote:

Folks we absolutely love and enjoy our waxleaf privet and have for years.
We have both the flat leaf and the curled leaf.
All I can say is that we have at least seventy to eighty around our farm and would never dream of replacing them.Talk about superb road frontage privacy that can't be beat.Provides a year round evergreen hedge .Trimmed from the ground up about half way makes beautiful mid size oriental trees.
With a scent straight from heaven when in bloom, the blossoms attract beautiful bumble bees and honey bees that work for us around the farm pollinating the gardens!
(Ligustrum japonicum) YES!


On Apr 7, 2012, katncentx from Harker Heights, TX wrote:

I have Ligustrum japonicum (Wax Leaf Privet) in my yard but we have never seen black fruit on them. We love them because they are easy to maintain and we've never had an issue with them spreading... actually we're looking to put them in the back yard as well if we can find some to plant.


On Dec 8, 2011, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

I hate this plant with a passion ! Whoever had this house before I bought it planted this awful plague of a tree and now I have to just deal with it . 1, it is messy it has these black berries that are food for every bird in the entire state to eat . 2, Everywhere one of those berries lands a new tree starts . 3, Every year I tear more and more of these d*** things out of my flowerbeds and no matter what you do more just pop right up to take their place . I am so sick of this G.D. tree I am ready to pour gasoline on its roots and call it a day . It ruins my flowerbeds with all its volunteers that just seem to help themselves to my containers , cracks in the cement, the foundation even in the gutters . INVASIVE INVASIVE INVASIVE pest of a godforsaken tree . Please excuse my ranting as I am... read more


On Sep 21, 2011, pfadi from Larkspur, CA wrote:

Is this plant salt water tolerant?


On May 8, 2009, dghornock from bear (glasgow), DE (Zone 7b) wrote:

We are in Southeastern Pa (7a) about 75 miles wnw of Philadelphia, and 75 miles nne of Baltimore; and this plant has been growing well in a protected spot (shaded by loblolly pines) on the east side of our house.


On Dec 10, 2008, realbirdlady from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

"Wildlife disperse the seeds from its abundant drupes, which then sprout and grow with amazing vigor... They compete with native understory plants and even suppress native hardwood regeneration." I couldn't have put it any better. They can be controlled in just your own yard, but there's no way to keep the animals from spreading the seeds. So, so sad, what they can do to a woodland ecosystem. Please, please, remove them if you have them, and don't plant any more.


On Feb 13, 2008, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

How to distinguish Ligustrum japonicum from Ligustrum lucidum:

The leaf tips of Ligustrum japonicum are blunt or bluntly pointed; however, those of Ligustrum lucidum are sharply pointed. The leaf tips of Ligustrum lucidum tend to bend backwards a bit.

Ligustrum japonicum leaves are three to four inches (7.5 to 10 cm) long; whereas, Ligustrum lucidum leaves are four to six inches (10 to 15 cm) long.

When a L. lucidum leaf is backlit by strong light, the lateral veins are lucid and appear as is a halo (pinkish) on the leaf margins. L. japonicum leaf veins are inconspicuous or opaque before a strong light.

L. japonicum usually has a shiny, waxy leaf, whereas, a L. lucidum leaf is dull. L. japonicum leaves snap when bent. L. lu... read more


On Nov 20, 2007, nifty413 from Garland, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

There seems to be confusion as to this plant's true identity here. Unfortunately, the moniker "Japanese Ligustrum" has been used for Ligustrum lucidum in many areas, and several of the photos here show that species instead of Ligustrum japonicum (more frequently referred to in my area as "Waxleaf Ligustrum" -- a reversal of the two species' literal meanings).


On Dec 20, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Japanese Privet, Waxleaf Privet Ligustrum japonicum is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.


On Feb 19, 2006, GreenEyedGuru from SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is very prolific in northern California. I constantly have strong-rooted volunteers popping up in my yard. Their favorite place to sprout seems to be right near the trunks of other valuable trees, making it hard to dig them out. 'Invasive' is too strong a term, but they are definitely annoying.


On Nov 21, 2005, RobD_SC from Columbia, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Like Ligustrum sinensis, this is an exotic invasive species. Wildlife disperse the seeds from its abundant drupes, which then sprout and grow with amazing vigor in Southern woodlands. They compete with native understory plants and even suppress native hardwood regeneration. Like kudzu, it is extremely difficult to remove once it has established itself. We would be better off if Ligustrum had never been imported to N America.


On Jul 1, 2004, MARTYV from Wilmington, NC wrote:

My first experience was very good, but I'm not sure if I got lucky in my method of cutting and planting. I cut a small (6inch) stem, removed all but three small leaves, cut it on an angle wet it covered with Rootone, shook off excess then placed it into a mixture of sand and peat moss. These were in a cold frame, and not opened for about 5-6 mo's. Approximately 90% made it, have since placed into 1 gal. containers for about another 4 months. All have made it into 18 inch plants.


On Nov 16, 2003, nipajo from Dallas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

In my area which is Dallas, Tx., it grows like a weed. The only kind I have ever planted is the varigated. However if you prune that it goes solid green. They love the fence line and will grow in between it. We have the small leaf and the large. I prefer to shape them into trees, the blooms are beautiful and the berries give color to a bland landscape in the winter.


On Nov 11, 2003, dogbane from New Orleans, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

A very popular and dependable shrub or small tree in the lower South. Flowers are very fragrant, but some people are allergic. Good for urban landscapes and for topiaries. Excellant screen, but be prepared to do lots of clipping for a formal hedge. Variegated forms available in yellow and white.


On Jun 6, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

When planting a few of them, you can sense a sweet smell when they all start blooming at the same time. Its a great sensation I have everyday in my way to work.


On Aug 31, 2002, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Wonderfully tough plant that grows fast and tolerates many moisture conditions including lack of. Makes a great hedge or small tree for the landscape. If pruned right, it'll form a vase-shaped small tree. Or, if cut completely off about three feet from the grond to rejuvenate it every few years, it will make a beautiful round huge bush/small tree like the one in the first pic on this page.

One drawback is limbs die off in older ones, so you'll need to prune them out quite often.


On Aug 28, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Needs well-drained soil and prefers regular watering. Grows fast. Leaves are glossy and leathery.