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8/31/2017- Privet

By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist

It’s time to discuss everyone’s least favorite invasive species…PRIVET. This is the most invasive species in the South. There are many different cultivars of privet but each one is just as prolific as the next. What many people don’t know about privet is that the berries that are produced from summer to spring are very poisonous!

All cultivars of privet are pretty much the same across the board. Chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense, is the most invasive of all the privets. The plant itself can grow up to heights of 30 feet with long, multistemmed branches. The shrub/plant itself also has multiple trunks coming out of the ground. Each different sub species of privet easily hybridizes with another, making it very different to distinguish between sub species. The bark on the shrub is very light gray and the leaves are opposite from each other along the stems. Chinese privet has very small leaves while other cultivars have larger leaves. Privet flowers in the spring to early summer. The flowers are clusters at the end of branches and are usually white in color. The smell the flowers produce cause sinus irritations in many people. California is home to privet with the worst fragrance. As I said, the berries are poisonous so do not touch them! So how did this very unpleasant invasive get here? It was introduced from China and Europe around the 1800s for use as ornamentals. They were valued for their use as “border shrubs”. Fortunately for us in the South, deer have developed quite a hankering for privet and will browse on it when it is young. The most aggravating characteristic of privet is its ability to form huge, dense thickets. Per usual, this invasive also favors fencerows and right of ways. Animal dispersed seeds are the number one reason for the rapid spread of this species.

I have been told by many foresters that the best way to eradicate privet is to burn it, push it up, and then spray it by helicopter. All THREE methods must be applied to even make a dent in a privet thicket. If privet is on its way to taking over your property, it is very important to take action now!

By: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as a member of the TrueSouth team contributing wildlife blog articles!

My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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