Broad-leaf privet, Chinese privet, glossy privet, tree privet, wax-leaf privet (Eng); aligustre del Japón, alheña elevada (Spa); troana, branca florida, llampuga blanca, olivella (Cat); zuhain madarikatu (Baq); alfenheiro, alfenherio-do-Japao (Por).
DID YOU KNOW...? The broad-leaf privet can withstand pruning to keep its crown small, making it a suitable species for planting in streets with narrow pavements.
This is an evergreen tree that grows to a height of 5-8 m, although very occasionally it can reach 15 m. It sometimes branches from the base and forms a fairly compact leafy crown that is generally rounded in shape. The bark is greyish brown, smooth, or finely cracked in older specimens. The leaves are simple, opposite, 7-12 cm long and 3-6 cm wide, with an entire margin and a 1 cm-long stalk. They have a somewhat rigid, ovate, ovate-lanceolate or even elliptical blade, and an tip that terminates in a very defined point. They are shiny and dark green in colour on the upper side, and paler and matt on the underside. The leaves are reminiscent of those of the popular 'weeping fig' (Ficus benjamina), but the shape of the tree, the flowers, and fruit all differentiate these two species. The broad-leaf privet blooms form wide pyramidal clusters that stand upright at the ends of the branches. Its tiny flowers, typical of the olive family, have 4 white petals fused at the base into a very short tube, and give off a pleasant scent. The fruits are pea-sized berries that ripen in autumn and winter, when they develop a bluish-black colour, although they appear opaque or whitish due to the waxy coating surrounding them (bloom). They contain 1 or 2 small seeds and their weight makes the clusters hang down.
The broad-leaf privet prospers in regions with mild winters and has therefore adapted well to the climate in the Canaries. It can also grow in a great variety of soil types and tolerates both full sun and partial shade. It is common along the edges of roads and land linked to the activity of humans (anthropised zones) on the midslopes, or medianías (zones between altitudes of 600 and 1500 m), where it is usually planted as an ornamental.
This species is native to Southeast Asia (Chinese, Korea and Japan) and has been introduced into the Canary Islands, where it has become established in the wild on the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria. In some places it is even considered an invasive species.