In my backyard, there is a flowering shrub resembling privet.

  • It's about 7' high and 9'wide
  • It's growing in dappled shade in open "lawn"
  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Small, white four petaled trumpet flowers in small grape-cluster-like racemes,
  • Ovate, opposite, glossy, leathery foliage
  • Smooth gray bark
  • Generally grows about 4"/year
  • Blooms anywhere between May 15 and June 15 (depending on the weather)
  • Semi evergreen (Loses 1/2 it's foliage on average, this winter almost all)
  • Makes a very small, blue berry that persists into winter
  • Deep burgundy/purple winter foliage
  • Fairly hairy new growth

My reasons for doubting that this is privet:

  • The leaves are much smaller than I've ever seen on privet
  • This shrub looks more like a focal planting and less like a hedge bush
  • The flowers are in a very small cluster
  • Privets are very fast-growing plants
  • Hairy new growth

I'd like to know what this is, so I can get more. See pics below. The picture with the hand is for scale. If you need another pic let me know.

Click any photo for full size

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1 Answer 1


Not Ligustrum and not Lonicera nitida either! I think its Osmanthus burkwoodii. Has downy new shoots, produces blue black berries (not sure they're edible, don't think they are), flowers have 4 petals, is evergreen, but will drop its leaves in severe winters, and can be used as hedging. The flowers should be fragrant, but how fragrant depends on your own sense of smell. Flowers usually held in small clusters, but sometimes the clusters extend along a branch.


Nope, leaf edges on O. burkwoodii are not coarsely toothed, they're smooth - Osmanthus heterophyllus, on the other hand, does have coarsely toothed leaves. Note also that Osmanthus varieties produce, variously, drupes or berries.

  • It looks good, but the fruit from my shrub seems to be a multiple seeded berry, not a drupe. The leaf shape/size/placement/color is good, bark matches, Flowers nearly match, high fragrance. Maybe most internet sites are wrong about fruit type?
    – J. Musser
    Jun 13, 2014 at 3:08
  • The leaves apparently are supposed to be serrated to coarsely toothed. Do you know of a cultivar with entirely smooth margins?
    – J. Musser
    Jun 13, 2014 at 3:12
  • @jmusser: I've updated my answer - I used to grow this shrub myself and the leaves are entirely smooth - also produced seeded berries, not drupes. Tried to grow from the seeds, but didn't have any luck at the time, I was a novice then! the only thing that gives me pause is the amount of flowers you've got, mine was never as floriferous, but it was in a pot and in the UK, in total shade.
    – Bamboo
    Jun 13, 2014 at 10:23
  • 1
    Hello! Lonicera nitida E.H. Wilson is a synonym of Lonicera ligustrina var. yunnanensis Franch.
    – BYJ
    Aug 4, 2014 at 15:45

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