Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Ligustrum Lucidum ‘Excelsum Superbum’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Ligustrum lucidum 'Excelsum Superbum' leaf (17/12/2011, London)

Ligustrum lucidum 'Excelsum Superbum' leaf (17/12/2011, London)

Position: Sun to Partial Shade

Flowering Period: Late Summer

Soil: Well Drained, Moist

Eventual Height: 8m

Eventual Spread: 6m

Hardiness: 8a – 10b

Family: Oleaceae

Ligustrum lucidum ‘Excelsum Superbum’ is an evergreen tree with a rounded canopy. The leaves are opposite, with a sharp terminal point  and entire margins. They are up to 13cm long and 6cm broad. The variegated leaves are dark green and mottled with light green and edged with creamy-yellow and have leathery texture. The stems are smooth and pale grey/ brown. The flowers are white, with a four lobed corolla, 5 – 6 millimeters long. They are arranged in upright panicles to 20cm long. These are followed by a fruit, an oval drupe, which is 6mm long, ripening to purple/ black.

Ligustrum lucidum ‘Excelsum Superbum’, commonly known as Chinese Privet ‘Excelsum Superbum’, Glossy Privet, Wax Tree Privet or Broad-leaf Privet, is native to southern China. The species Ligustrum lucidum is considered a noxious weed in New South Wales, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and California, Texas and Florida in the USA.

The etymological root of the binomial name Ligustrum is derived from the ancient Latin ‘ligula’ which was the name for Privet. Lucidum is derived from the Latin meaning ‘bright, clear or shining’, in reference to the leaves.

Ligustrum lucidum 'Excelsum Superbum' (17/12/2011, London)

Ligustrum lucidum 'Excelsum Superbum' (17/12/2011, London)

The landscape architect may find Ligustrum lucidum ‘Excelsum Superbum’ useful a small evergreen tree. It is also effective as an evergreen hedge with has attractive large glossy variegated leaves. It is regarded as evergreen in the south of the UK, whilst being semi-evergreen in the reminder of the UK. Once established it is moderately drought tolerant. This plant is also suitable for urban planting due to it’s pollution tolerance. Although this tree is shade tolerant the variegation of the leaves are brighter if located in full sun.

Ecologically, the seeds of L. lucidum ‘Excelsum Superbum’ are eaten by birds and the flowers are attractive to bees.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given L. lucidum ‘Excelsum Superbum’ their it their prestigious award of Garden Merit in 1993.

L. lucidum ‘Excelsum Superbum’  is tolerant of most soils as long as they are well drained. It is tolerant of most pH of soil. It will not tolerate waterlogged soils.

L. lucidum ‘Excelsum Superbum’ requires little maintenance.

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