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Potential use for privet?

 
                              
Posts: 9
Location: Lilburn, Georgia
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Hello all,

I am curious if anyone has any experience with or suggestions for making good use of a privet invasion.

I have a lot of usable grow space at the edge of the woods that used to be pioneer weeds years ago and is now almost exclusively privet. I intend on clearing the area in stages, preparing it with hugelkultur and mulch, then planting native species. I definitely do not want to produce more of it, and I am aware that just cutting it will do just that - I plan on digging it out.

As I am removing this privet, I will have an excess of it. What I'm wondering is if anyone knows of any good practical applications for it. I originally intended on using it all for hugelkultur, with the concern that it would sprout a bunch more. I am still considering this use - does anyone know how deep it would need to be buried to keep from sprouting, or am I just wasting my time with that? I have considered making decorative wreaths too. Any pointers or bright ideas would be greatly appreciated!
 
chrissy bauman
Posts: 131
Location: Sunset Zone 27, Florida
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what kind of privet? there's dozens of species, some are toxic, some attract bees and birds...
 
Cj Sloane
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Eartheart McCoy wrote:...does anyone know how deep it would need to be buried to keep from sprouting, or am I just wasting my time with that?


Depth isn't the issue. You need to make sure it's bone dry before you bury it. I've seen images of people stacking privet and other invasive upside down so that the cut end doesn't root. Once it's dry enough to snap the twigs you should be safe.
 
                              
Posts: 9
Location: Lilburn, Georgia
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Chrissy - I am pretty sure it is the Chinese privet that is a very common invasive here in Georgia. It's got small green leaves, not variegated. It grows very tall like a tree when mature, as tall as 25-30 ft. It also grows very densely, with many plants crowding together wherever it takes hold. It has little white flowers and produces the little black "berries". When cut, a thousand miniature plants pop up pretty quickly.. apparently it really likes our soil and weather conditions. I see that it has potential for coppicing, if I can find a semi-regular use for it.

I'm not sure that it is necessarily more useful to the animals than a native plant would be (guess it depends on the plant and how established it is). I know it is good cover for the birds, and I've read that the deer eat the berries. Nonetheless, it effectively makes an area uninhabitable for literally any other type of plant. In addition, anything I remove would pale in comparison to how much of the stuff there is throughout my patch of woods, so I'm definitely not concerned with over-harvesting to the point of no return.


CJ - Thanks for the tip! That is good to know.
 
Alder Burns
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Privet is an important winter forage for deer and especially goats. Being evergreen, it provides this resource when many other sources are dormant. The bloom provides nectar for bees, although honey made primarily from privet-bloom is bitter and worthless, except to the bees themselves. Birds eat the berries, and so spread the plant. Long shoots, such as from coppiced stub, are long and flexible and useful for basketry.
But since your goal is to transition the privet-dominated area to other purposes, you are probably interested in ways to use dead privet, not live privet! Chipping for mulch. Let dry out and then firewood or hugelkultur. Biochar.
Since it will come up from the roots you will need heavy sheetmulch, or tillage, or hogs, or some combination, to truly get ahead of the root systems.
 
                              
Posts: 9
Location: Lilburn, Georgia
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Thanks Alder! That is all very useful information.
 
chrissy bauman
Posts: 131
Location: Sunset Zone 27, Florida
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one of the privets that grows in florida has been found to kill horses, is why i'm asking.
 
Kitty Hudson
Posts: 33
Location: SW KY--out in the sticks in zone 6.
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If you know of someone interested in bonsai, chinese privet is one of the few species that is supposed to be able to live as an indoor bonsai. Given how well it thrives in a deeply shaded area of the creekbed near my house, I believe it.
 
Alder Burns
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"Privet" is unfortunately a common name. I'm referring to species of Ligustrum. There may well be other plants called "privet" that are not related. In the South and Florida for instance is a thing called "swamp privet" which is a native (Forestiera) and only distantly related. So I wonder if it was Ligustrum, or something else, that poisoned the horses. Also horses are not ruminants....they digest their forage differently and I know that they have a different tolerance for various plants than ruminants. There's also a difference between a diet primarily of one thing and free range where an animal eats some of this and some of that. When I had my bush goats in GA I'd see them happily eat yellow jessamine, azaleas, and other quite toxic plants and never miss a beat.....I'm sure it's because they ate some of these things on their way through the bush while eating bunches of other things too....
 
Noah Figg
Posts: 57
Location: DFW Area, Texas
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I was going to post a new thread but since it is "privet" related, I thought I'd just slightly highjack this one.

I have just recently identified a shrub in my backyard as ligustrum sinense (or less likely ligustrum vulgare). It's fruit is like this:



Anyway, it happened to sprout up in the back of an untended bed of garlic chives and onions, which I like for the fact of having a little shade and habitat for birds, etc., but I obviously don't want to propagate an invasive plant. Here it is a little while ago; it is probably about 50% bigger now:



My question is, would it be a bad idea to try to use this as a nursery plant to a shrub or two I do want there? For instance, if I cut off all the fruit cluster formations (they are just after flowering stage), and any more that form, I should theoretically limit its ability to "invade" so it should be safe temporarily to use it in this way. Is that a valid assumption?

The spot where it formed is near where the gutter off the shed drains to, so it is a nice moist spot comparatively. I am going to start a passion vine behind it, and want to add some kind of good shrub near where the ligustrum is.
 
Alder Burns
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having it for a nurse plant might be a good idea, though I can think of others that would serve the purpose better (such as mimosa, which is a nitrogen fixer and does not cast as much shade) Also the longer you leave that privet there the harder it will be to dig up when you decide to do so. Broken-off roots in the soil can sprout new shoots, and these will be more numerous and further from the original plant the longer you let it grow, whether coppiced or not.....
 
David Livingston
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Have you thought about using it as a root stock and grafting something tastier on to it ?

David
 
Alder Burns
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It is used as a rootstock for lilac, but the only really useful plant in that family is the olive, and I imagine someone would have tried it by now, but I see nothing on search.....
 
chrissy bauman
Posts: 131
Location: Sunset Zone 27, Florida
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passion vine grow great in full sun, and are more likely to flower and fruit in full sun, so it would not help to keep the privet. my privet are all japanese privet, unfortunately. bleh.
but if you want to keep the privet trimmed and put the vine on it like a trellis, it will enjoy that too. i would agree that there are probably a lot of better choices for a trellis-tree. on the other hand, this one is free!
 
Kitty Hudson
Posts: 33
Location: SW KY--out in the sticks in zone 6.
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Noah, if that's the invasive ligustrum species like what I have here in KY, it sprouts from the roots terribly and will take over an area even without flowers. In fact, stressing the plant by preventing it from reproducing sexually may actually cause it to redirect its energy into root suckers. If I were you, I'd dig it up and as much of the root as possible.
 
Philip Green
Posts: 45
Location: Southern Ohio (zone 6a)
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It is a bit of a myth I notice a lot that cutting will not kill a species (like privet). If you cut the plant once, then it will resprout more vigorously. But it has to use stored energy from the roots to do so. If you cut the resprouts early on, then it will have lost energy and the next set of resprouts will be less vigorous. Just keep cutting the resprouts and eventually the roots will run out of energy and the plant will die. It's easier if the plant is in an area that you can mow around, as suckers off the roots can go a fair distance and mowing them down is a simple way to kill them quickly.

I managed to kill some tree of heaven in my yard this way. Just cut them down then kill the resprouts every month or so during the growing season. It is somewhat more time consuming, but might be easier than the alternative of digging up the roots (and is definitely less damaging to the soil). Though if you have goats then the process can become much easier if you let them do the work of killing resprouts (assuming the goats like to eat the given plant and they do like privet).
 
Noah Figg
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Location: DFW Area, Texas
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Thanks for all the replies. The current location of the ligustrum is about a foot or two in from the edge of the bed of garlic chives, so I could mow some suckers that might shoot up in one direction, but much of it would be coming up in the bed if it started suckering heavily. Even if I eventually have to get at the root, I will start trimming the top back now as we get into drought and high heat soon in Texas. That would probably be the easiest time to kill it here. I have a few questions about the passion vine thing, but I will make a different thread for that.
 
Rebecca Norman
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We've been lightly battling a privet invasion at our place in Massachusetts for several years. It's not horrible, but it does grow up under and around forest trees that we love, and provide dense cover and a scaffold for nasty invasive vines to jump up into the beloved trees and threaten to kill them. The privet is all seedlings from local ornamental plantings.

We find that the privet seedlings are fairly shallow-rooted and easy to pull out up to about knee or even waist tall -- unless they've been previously cut or broken off, in which case their roots are much stronger in the ground. We've got a few box seedling weeds that look a little similar, from a similar source, and those are always tenaciously into the ground even when small.

For the bigger privets that harbor nasty tree-killing vines, some years we go on the rampage and cut a whole area off at ground level, and then hire a guy with a brush mower to come through several times a year. Seems to work, reasonably well.

(Does anyone know if topical vinegar to the cut stem might work as a mild herbicide? Would be nice, because vinegar would get digested by the ecosystem)
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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