Herb: Privet

Latin name: Ligustrum vulgare

Family: Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Medicinal use of Privet:

The leaves are astringent, bitter, detergent, vulnerary. Internal use of this plant should be avoided since it can produce allergic symptoms. Externally it is a safe and effective treatment. The bark has been used as a stomachic, though this is not really recommended.

Description of the plant:


3 m
(9 3/4 foot)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Open woodland, hedges and scrub, often by the sea and usually on calcareous soils.

Other uses of Privet:

A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves, from the bark according to other reports. A bluish-green dye is obtained from the berries, it is more permanent than most greens. A black dye can also be obtained from the fruit as well as an ink. Wood - hard, close-grained. It is valuable for turning if it reaches sufficient size and can also be used to make small tools. The wood is a source of charcoal. The young twigs are used in basketry and hurdle making.

Propagation of the herb:

Sow the seed in spring in a cold frame. Stored seed germinates better if it is stratified,. Remove any fruit flesh from around the seed before it is sown since this can inhibit germination. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed can also be sown in outdoor seed beds in the autumn. You can leave the plants to grow on in the seedbed for up to 4 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter. 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. The cuttings can also be placed in situ if required. High percentage.

Cultivation of Privet:

Open woodland, hedges and scrub, often by the sea and usually on calcareous soils.

Known hazards of Ligustrum vulgare:

Poisonous, though the toxicity is of a very low order and normally the consumption of the fruit leads to vomiting or no symptoms at all.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.