Herb: Chinese Privet

Latin name: Ligustrum lucidum

Family: Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Medicinal use of Chinese Privet:

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.

Description of the plant:


10 m
(33 feet)

August to

Habitat of the herb:

Roadsides and in river valleys. Woods below 2900 metres.

Edible parts of Chinese Privet:

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

Other uses of the herb:

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.

Propagation of Chinese Privet:

The seed does not require any pre-treatment and can be sown in the spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Very easy. Cuttings of mature wood, 20 - 30cm in a sheltered outdoor bed in November/December. High percentage.

Cultivation of the herb:

Roadsides and in river valleys. Woods below 2900 metres.

Known hazards of Ligustrum lucidum:

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.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.