University of Florida

Forestiera segregata (Florida Privet)

Florida Privet

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  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8B - 11
  • Mature Height: 10 to 15 ft
  • Mature Spread: 5 to 10 ft
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Availability: Somewhat available
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Salt Tolerance: Good to moderate
  • Light Requirements: Full sun to partial sun
  • Native Origin: Native to Florida
  • Soil Drainage: Tolerates well-drained sites to sites with extended flooding.
  • Foliage: Semi-evergreen, to evergreen tree with no showy fall color.
  • Flowers: Green to yellow, not showy flowers in spring and winter.
  • Pests: Free of serious pests and diseases.

Description: Florida Privet is a 10- to 20-foot-tall shrub or small tree that is densely foliated with small, evergreen leaves. The dark, glossy green leaves are oblong to elliptic in shape and are sometimes shed in the winter. The form commonly found in South Florida (Dade County) has a smaller leaf than those from other parts of the state. The bark of the younger trees is light brown or gray, and older specimens have a pale yellow bark that is mottled with light brown and green. The bark of the older trees is also roughened by many small, raised lenticels.

Bees are attracted to the tiny, corolla-less flowers that have greenish yellow or reddish purple stamens. These flowers are borne individually or in clusters of three or four along the branches, and they occur in the winter and early spring before the new leaves emerge. The fruits are purplish or dark blue berries that ripen in the spring and summer. The birds favor these berries, and the plant produces the fruits in abundance. Florida Privet may be successfully used as a specimen or hedge. With regular clipping, it can be planted along a foundation. It makes a superior hedge and is very tolerant of clipping and shearing. Small leaf size and moderate growth rate make it suited for maintaining at almost any height. For best results, keep the lower portion of the hedge wider than the top.

Early training can produce a small tree for planting in home landscapes and other areas requiring a small, multi-trunked tree. This cold hardy plant requires a planting site that receives full sun, and a well-drained soil. It grows poorly in mucky soils. Its native, upland coastal habitat associates include Bay Cedar, Spanish Bayonet, Cocoplum and other drought and salt tolerant plants. Soils in this habitat are very sandy with shell fragments and a neutral or alkaline pH.

Gainesville Observations: Our plants are small yet but it appears as though this plant could be pruned into a small tree, eventually. It produces ample branches on which to grow a canopy, a thick trunk, and a good root system. It might be trained into a single trunk for a small street tree but training into a multi-trucked tree would be easier. Canopy thins in winter; flowers are small and not noticeable. Plants have grown very well in the first two years and appear well adapted to the climate.

Fact Sheet (pdf)