Health benefits of Chinese Privet

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Chinese privet Quick Facts
Name: Chinese privet
Scientific Name: Ligustrum lucidum
Origin Southern China and has been naturalized in Spain, Italy, Algeria, Canary Islands, New Zealand, Lesotho, South Africa, Japan, Korea, Australia, Norfolk Island, Chiapas, Central America, Argentina, Uruguay, and the southern United States
Colors Initially pale green turning to bluish-black or purplish-black in color as they mature
Shapes Oval or round drupes that is 5-10 mm long and 4-6 mm wide
Taste Bitter, Sweet
Health benefits Support weak kidney and liver, menopausal problems, blurred vision, cataracts, tinnitus, rheumatic pains, palpitations, backache, insomnia, hypertension, Parkinson's disease, hepatitis, dizziness and fever
Ligustrum lucidum commonly known as Chinese privet tree or glossy privet and Nu Zhen Zi in Pinyin is a species of flowering plant in the olive family Oleaceae. Sometimes it is a bit annoying when ligustrum lucidum berries are ripe. The plant is native to southern China, it has been naturalized in Spain, Italy, Algeria, Canary Islands, New Zealand, Lesotho, South Africa, Japan, Korea, Australia, Norfolk Island, Chiapas, Central America, Argentina, Uruguay, and the southern United States (California, Arizona, Maryland, and the southeast from Texas to North Carolina). The name Chinese privet is also used for Ligustrum sinense. Some of the well-known common names of the plant are broad leaf privet, broad-leaved privet, Chinese glossy privet, Chinese liguster, Chinese privet, Chinese wax leaved privet, Chinese wax-leaf privet, Chinese white-wax tree, glossy privet, large leaf privet, large-leaved privet, ligustrum, Nepal privet, privet, tree privet, giant privet, wax tree privet, privet fruit, Chinese Ligustrum, Dong Qing Zi and white wax tree.

Genus name comes from the Latin word for privet. The Latin specific epithet lucidum means bright or shiny, referring to the leaves. Ligustrum lucidum is often used as an ornamental tree, occasionally in variegated forms. It is also one of several species of privet used as dense, evergreen hedges, which can be trained to a specific size and shape by regular pruning.  It has become an invasive species in some areas where it has been introduced, such as urban areas in the southeastern United States. It is classed as a noxious weed in New South Wales, Australia, and is similarly listed in New Zealand’s National Pest Plant Accord. Both leaves and fruit are poisonous to humans. It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.

Chinese Privet Facts

Name Chinese privet
Scientific Name Ligustrum lucidum
Native Native to southern China, it has been naturalized in Spain, Italy, Algeria, Canary Islands, New Zealand, Lesotho, South Africa, Japan, Korea, Australia, Norfolk Island, Chiapas, Central America, Argentina, Uruguay, and the southern United States (California, Arizona, Maryland, and the southeast from Texas to North Carolina).
Common Names Broad leaf privet, broad-leaved privet, Chinese glossy privet, Chinese liguster, Chinese privet, Chinese wax leaved privet, Chinese wax-leaf privet, Chinese white-wax tree, glossy privet, large leaf privet, large-leaved privet, ligustrum, Nepal privet, privet, tree privet, giant privet, wax tree privet, privet fruit, Chinese Ligustrum, Dong Qing Zi, white wax tree
Name in Other Languages Afrikaans: Chinese liguster, Blink liguster, Shinese liguster
Albanian: Ligustra, voshtër
Armenian: Kipros p’aylun (Կիպրոս փայլուն)
Azerbaijani: Pаrlаq birgöz
Basque: Beltxale distiratsu
Catalan: Troana
Chinese: Nu zhen (女楨)
Croatian: Kalina
English: Chinese privet, Chinese wax-leaf privet, Glossy privet, Broad-leaf-privet, Giant privet, Glossy-privet, Large-leaf privet, Ligustrum, Tree privet, White waxtree, Chinese liguster, Wax-leaved privet
Estonian: Läikiv liguster
Finnish: Kiiltolikusteri
French: Troène du Japon, Troène luisant, Troène de Chine, troène brilliant, troène à feuilles brillantes  
German: Glänzender Liguster, Glanzliguster       
Italian: Ligustro lucido
Japanese: Tō-nezumimochi (トウネズミモチ)
Korean: Dang gwang na mu (당광나무), je ju gwang na mu (제주광나무)  
Norwegian: Blankliguster
Persian: لیگاستروم لوسیدم
Polish: Ligustr lśniący
Portuguese: Alfeneiro, Alfeneiro-brilhante, Alfeneiro-da-china, Alfenheiro-do-japão, Ligustro
Russian: Biryuchina blestyashchaya (бирючина блестящая)
Spanish: Ligustro, Trueno, alheña elevada, aligustre del Japón, capicuerno, malmadurillo, matahombres              
Swedish: Glansliguster
Ukrainian: Byryuchyna blyskucha (бирючина блискуча)
Plant Growth Habit Small to medium, hardy, fast-growing, deciduous, semi-evergreen, or evergreen shrub or round-headed tree
Growing Climates Forests, forest edges, coastal cliffs, waste places, margins of remnant forest stands, gardens, roadsides, river valleys, open woodlands, grasslands, rainforests, disturbed areas, alongside waterways, rainforests, gullies, creek banks, pastures, wet forests, farm hedgerows, shrub lands, gardens, riverbanks, wetlands and coastal dunes
Plant Size 4-12 m tall with a 8 -12 m spread, but occasionally a large tree reaching up to 25 m in height
Root Root system is shallow but extensive
Bark Bark is smooth gray-brown, numerous lighter, horizontal lenticels.
Twigs Slender, fuzzy, grey brown, very small buds; often many, opposite thorn like dead twigs persist.
Leaf Leaves are evergreen to semi-deciduous and are oppositely arranged (two leaves per node) along the stem on nodes that are usually less than one inch apart.  The leaves vary from egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate) to oval (i.e. elliptic) in shape and are borne on short stalks (i.e. petioles) 10-30 mm long
Flowering season August to September
Flower Flowers are about 6 mm across and are white or cream in color and have four petals (2-5 mm long) that are fused at the base into a very short tube (i.e. corolla tube). They also have four tiny sepals (1.5-2 mm long) and two stamens.
Fruit Shape & Size Oval or round drupes that is 5-10 mm long and 4-6 mm wide
Fruit Color Initially pale green turning to bluish-black or purplish-black in color as they mature
Flavor/Aroma Strong, unpleasant odor
Taste Bitter, Sweet
Plant Parts Used Leaves, Flowers
Propagation By seed and by semi-hardwood cuttings in summer or hardwood cuttings in winter
Season September to October
Culinary Uses
  • Young shoots can be cooked and used as famine food, used when all else fails.

Plant Description

Chinese privet is a small to medium, hardy, fast-growing, deciduous, semi-evergreen, or evergreen shrub or round-headed tree that normally grows about 4-12 m tall with a 8 -12 m spread, but occasionally a large tree reaching up to 25 m in height. The plant is found growing in forests, forest edges, coastal cliffs, waste places, margins of remnant forest stands, gardens, roadsides, river valleys, open woodlands, grasslands, rainforests, disturbed areas, alongside waterways, rainforests, gullies, creek banks, pastures, wet forests, farm hedgerows, shrub lands, gardens, riverbanks, wetlands and coastal dunes. Its root system is shallow but extensive. Suckers are readily produced and the plants can spread vegetatively in this fashion. The plants branch abundantly and the branches typically arch gently downward. Its twigs are usually densely hairy (pubescent) when young and the plant hairs (trichomes) spread at right angles from the twig surface. Raised, tan-colored lenticels are also evident on the twig’s surface.

Stems

The stems and leaves are hairless (i.e. glabrous) and the younger stems are rounded (i.e. terete) and greenish in color. Older stems and branches usually develop a relatively smooth greyish-coloued bark as they mature, which is loosely covered with small white raised structures (i.e. lenticels). However, the fruit-bearing branches often turn orange or reddish in color.

Leaves

Chinese privet leaves are evergreen to semi-deciduous and are oppositely arranged (two leaves per node) along the stem on nodes that are usually less than one inch apart.  The leaves vary from egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate) to oval (i.e. elliptic) in shape and are borne on short stalks (i.e. petioles) 10-30 mm long. These leaves are 4-24 cm long and 2.5-8 cm wide and are hairless (i.e. glabrous), leathery in texture. Their upper surfaces are dark green and glossy in appearance, while their undersides are paler and duller (i.e. the leaves are discolors). They have entire margins, pointed tips (i.e. acute apices) and rounded (i.e. obtuse) bases. Hairs occur along the mid vein and occasionally on branch veins of the lower surfaces.

Leaf arrangement Opposite/sub-opposite
Leaf type Simple
Leaf margin Entire
Leaf shape Ovate, lanceolate
Leaf venation Pinnate
Leaf type and persistence Evergreen, broadleaf evergreen
Leaf blade length 2 to 4 inches, 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color Green
Fall color Not showy
Fall characteristic Not showy

 

Flowers

The flowers occur in numerous, cone shaped, branching clusters (panicles) two to four inches long that profusely cover the shrub when flowering. Short, slender stalk (pedicel) supports each flower. The small flowers are about 6 mm across and are white or cream in color and have four petals (2-5 mm long) that are fused at the base into a very short tube (i.e. corolla tube). They also have four tiny sepals (1.5-2 mm long) and two stamens. These flowers are borne in large branched clusters (8-25 cm long) at the tips of the branches (i.e. in terminal panicles). They are borne directly on the branches of the flower clusters or on short stalks (i.e. pedicels) 1-3 mm long (i.e. they are sessile or sub-sessile). The flowers produce a somewhat disagreeable aroma. Flowering occurs mostly during August to September.

Flower color White/cream/gray
Flower characteristics Showy

 

Fruits

Fertile flowers are followed by small fruit that is 5-10 mm long and 4-6 mm wide and are berry-like (actually drupes). They are initially pale green turning to bluish-black or purplish-black in color as they mature. These fruit are oval (i.e. ellipsoid) or round (i.e. globular) and each usually contains two seeds. The seeds have a ribbed surface and are about 5 mm long. Fruit are present during autumn and winter.

Fruit shape Oval, round
Fruit length Less than .5 inch
Fruit covering Fleshy
Fruit color Purple, blue
Fruit characteristics Attracts birds; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

 

Health benefits of Chinese privet extract

Increasing lingustrin levels through Ligustrum lucidum extract supplementation can provide many health benefits. The following are among the primary benefits of taking Ligustrum lucidum extract for long periods of time through supplementation

1. Improve vision

Research has concluded that certain compounds in Chinese privet extract other than lingustrin help to improve vision and prevent certain eye disorders including macular degeneration. It may also help prevent blurring of vision brought about by aging and other causative factors. Experts also say that Chinese privet extract may prevent wavering of vision, particularly among elderly individuals.

2. Treat chronic inflammation

Chronic or long-term inflammation or infection caused by underlying health conditions can be treated with Chinese privet extract, according to recent research. As a potential anti-inflammatory agent, experts say that the extract may be included in medical formulations indicated for inflammatory health conditions in the years to come.

3. Help HIV patients

Patients who are suffering from HIV are at high risk for various infections due to the immuno suppressing effects of the microbial disease. Research has concluded that Chinese privet extract supplementation may be effective in preventing rapid spread of infection among patients with HIV.

Traditional uses and benefits of Chinese privet

  • Chinese privet has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 1,000 years.
  • The fruit is antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-tumor, cardio-tonic, 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 anti-tumor activity.
  • Fruit has been used in treating respiratory tract infections, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease and hepatitis.
  • It is often decocted with other herbs in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments and also as a general tonic.
  • Leaves are anodyne, diaphoretic, febrifuge, pectoral and vulnerary.
  • Bark of the stems is diaphoretic.
  • Chinese privet is a Chinese medicinal herb used to treat poor vision, dizziness, fever, and insomnia, and to increase immune function in cancer patients.
  • Traditionally, the plant is used to treat diminished eyesight, dizziness, fever, and insomnia.
  • Some herbalists also use it to treat side effects caused by chemotherapy and to increase immune function in cancer patients.
  • Fruit is commonly used in the traditional Chinese medicine as a kidney tonic.
  • They are also used to cure fatigue and treat dropsy.
  • Leaves are used to heal abscesses, cold, congestions and headaches.
  • In traditional Chinese medicine seeds are supposed to nourish liver and kidney yin and jing in the treatment of tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo (dizziness), premature graying of the hair and soreness/weakness of the lower back and knees.
  • They are also used in the treatment of disorders of the eye involving red or dry eyes, blurred vision, and pain.
  • It was used for a wide range of conditions, including premature aging and ringing in the ears.
  • It is used to enhance white blood cell counts after chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
  • Chinese privet is used for promoting growth and darkening of hair, reducing facial dark spots, rapid heartbeat, achy joints, swelling, tumors, dizziness, common cold, congestion, constipation, deafness, fever, headache, liver disease, trouble sleeping, chronic fatigue syndrome, promoting youthfulness, and extending lifespan.
  • In Traditional Chinese Medicine, ligustrum is often combined with astragalus root to combat long term weakness, chronic illness or deficiency, and many degenerative ailments such as general immune weakness.

Other Facts

  • Commercial insect wax is produced on the branches as a result of eggs being laid by insects.
  • Wax is produced by the plant due to the stimulation of the feeding 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.
  • Due to its fast growth and wide tolerance to environmental conditions, L. lucidum and its varieties are widely used in horticulture for hedging and ornamental purposes.
  • Bunches of mature fruit are also used in flower arrangements.
  • It is a symbol of chastity in China and has been extensively cultivated since ancient times for various cultural and medicinal purposes, such as culturing wax-insects to obtain white wax.
  • The fruit is harvested when fully ripe and is dried for later use.

Prevention and Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product’s label.

Control Methods

Cultural/Physical

Hands pull young seedlings and small plants. Larger plants may need to be dug out. Plants should be pulled as soon as possible, before they produce seeds. The entire root must be removed to prevent resprouting. Replace with native plants.

Mechanical

For smaller infestations or areas where herbicide applications are not possible mowing and cutting are appropriate. Stems should be cut as close to the ground as possible at least once per growing season. Mowing and cutting will not eradicate Ligustrum spp., but it will provide some level of management. Continuous mowing will work, but frequency is key.

Biological

Although no classical biological control agents have been developed, the non-native seed attacking Ligustrum weevil has been found in established populations.  Learn more.

Chemical

Cut stump should be considered when treating individual shrubs. Immediately after cutting stems at or near ground level apply herbicide being careful to cover the entire surface. Effectiveness of the herbicide is increased if holes are cut in the top of the freshly felled stump. 25% Garlon 3A or 25% glyphosate product.

Precautions

  • 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.
  • It may cause runny nose, asthma, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
  • Avoid if you are suffering from diarrhea due to spleen and stomach deficiency leading to cold.
  • If you are taking Chinese privet then do not take anti-diabetic medications as it may cause hypoglycemia because Chinese privet lowers your blood glucose levels.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=503450#null

http://www.hear.org/pier/species/ligustrum_lucidum.htm

https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Ligustrum+lucidum

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/ligustrum-lucidum

https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/30751

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=282962

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/LIGLU

https://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/ligustrum_lucidum.htm

https://spain.inaturalist.org/taxa/77740-Ligustrum-lucidum

https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=LILU2

https://plants.usda.gov/DocumentLibrary/plantguide/pdf/pg_lisi.pdf

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