Kick in the privets - Pest trees Chinese privet and tree privet

December's pest plants of the month

Privet trees
Privet trees (tree privet and Chinese privet) are a real nuisance

The invasive pair of tree privet and Chinese privet are a big problem in Kaipātiki. These tree species are fast growing and spread easily. Around our backyards and reserves they out-compete and outgrow native trees, forcing them out. Eventually they replace the native trees which support our native wildlife. And to add insult to injury they are a common cause of allergies due to the copious amounts of pollen they produce. Read on to learn more.

Deliberately introduced as ornamental plants or for use as hedging, they soon escaped people’s gardens and started growing almost everywhere, changing the native ecosystem in places.

Another interesting thing to mention in the story of introduced privet - the Privet lace bug. This small, easily over-looked insect has been assessed and cleared as a biological control on Chinese privet. In fact, some of these special bugs were released here in Kaipātiki and the distinctive signs of them feeding on privet has been seen in Birkenhead War Memorial Park. Take a walk there and see if you can spot them.

Privet lace bugs damage Chinese privet leaves
Privet lace bugs damage Chinese privet leaves, slowing it down

Chinese privet and tree privet are noticeable this time of year because of the large number of small flowers they produce. Typically, Chinese privet flowers September to December, and tree privet November to March.