The Magnificent Wax Leaf Ligustrum

The Wax Leaf Ligustrum is a beautiful evergreen shrub native to Japan and Korea. Its current location extends to temperate regions in the Southern states of the United States, as well as California. While it can co-exist with the Chinese privet, it is generally less invasive and more prevalent in lowlands. The Wax Leaf Ligustrum is shade tolerant and can adapt to a wide range of soil types.

Resemblance and Native Alternatives

This remarkable shrub closely resembles the Chinese privet and other species of Ligustrum sinense. However, the Wax Leaf Ligustrum can be distinguished by its larger and thicker leaves. It also bears some similarity to plants in the Photinia genus and the Carolina laurel cherry, which share evergreen qualities and finely toothed margins on their leaves.

For those looking for native alternatives, consider the Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera), Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), Carolina Laurel Cherry (Prunus caroliniana), Evergreen Sumac (Rhus virens), Texas Barometer Bush (Leucophyllum frutescens), and Wild Crapemyrtle (Malpighia glabra).

Effective Management

Although not as invasive or detrimental as the Chinese privet, it is advisable not to plant the Wax Leaf Ligustrum to prevent its spread. If already present, it is recommended to swiftly remove any existing plantings. Management techniques such as cutting, mulching, and bulldozing are effective when the shrub is not fruit-bearing. However, if harvesting the plant while it’s bearing fruit, make sure to collect and dispose of any seeds before disposal, either by bagging and putting them in a dumpster or burning them. In rural areas, the Wax Leaf Ligustrum can be consumed by sheep and goats.

Further reading:  A Comprehensive Guide to Growing Dragon Fruit

Another effective method for larger Ligustrum species is tree-girdling, which is demonstrated in a helpful video available here. Additionally, chemical treatments like Glyphosate and Triclopyr can be used, especially on new plants before seed formation. For larger privets, tree injections can reach and destroy the lower part of the main stem.

Pesticide Usage and Precautions

When using pesticides, it is crucial to exercise caution and follow the instructions on the label. Read the entire pesticide label carefully, adhere to all mixing and application instructions, and wear the recommended personal protective gear and clothing.


  • Contributions from Texas Invasives, which greatly contributed to this species page.
  • Miller, J.H., 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 pp (USDA SRS).
  • Miller, J.H., Chambliss, E.B., & Loewenstein, N.J. 2010. A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests. General Technical Report SRS-119. Asheville, NC. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 126 p.
  • Alfred Rehder, 1967. Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs: Hardy in North America, the MacMillan Co., New York.
  • Bailey, L.H. and E.Z. Bailey, Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada, MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York (1977).
  • Internet Sources: NatureServe Explorer, USDA Plants Profile,, Bugwood Wiki

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