Privet (Ligustrum) is native to Europe, north Africa, Asia and Australasia. The genus contains about 50 species of flowering, erect, deciduous or evergreen shrubs, sometimes forming small or medium-sized trees, One plant may produce thousands of fruits, most of which are eaten by birds. Some species have become widely naturalized or invasive where introduced.
Some species produce a fruit that is mildly toxic to humans. Symptoms from eating privet fruit include nausea, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, low blood pressure, and low body temperature.
Chinese privet is used in traditional herbal medicine. The decoction of privet leaves or bark helps to treat diarrhea, stomach ulcers, chronic bowel problems, chapped lips, sore mouths and throats, and a wash for skin problems. Privet leaves and bark have bitter properties that make a useful tea for improving appetite and digestion in chemotherapy patients.