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A deciduous or more or less evergreen shrub 6 to 10 ft high, of rather lax habit; young shoots covered with minute down. Leaves narrowly oval or lance-shaped, 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. wide, glabrous. Flowers dull white, produced during June and July on erect compact panicles 1 to 2 in. long, terminating the twigs; they have a heavy odour objectionable to most people. Fruits globose or egg-shaped, black.
Native of Europe, including Britain, where it is considered wild from Yorkshire southwards. The common privet may nowadays be regarded almost as the Cinderella among shrubs. It is relegated to dark corners and other damp out-of-the-way places under the drip of trees, where scarcely anything else will grow. But one can scarcely wish it a better fate. With so many beautiful things available the privet is not needed; even in its own genus it is about the least attractive, and for hedges is now superseded by L. ovalifolium. Its flowers are under suspicion of producing a kind of hay-fever. The berries are eaten by birds.
The geographical range of the common privet is wider than given in the first printing of this volume (and earlier editions), as it extends into south-west Asia and also occurs in North Africa.
L. italicum Mill.
L. vulgare var. sempervirens Loud