University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #FPS-213

Forestiera segregata, Florida Privet, Florida Swamp Privet, and Southern Privet1

Edward F. Gilman2


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 much 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.

General Information

Scientific name: Forestiera segregata
Pronunciation: far-ress-TEER-uh seg-reg-AY-tuh
Common name(s): Florida privet, Florida swamp privet, Southern privet
Family: Oleaceae
Plant type: tree
USDA hardiness zones: 8B through 11 (Fig. 1)
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Uses: superior hedge; espalier; specimen; screen; attracts butterflies
Availablity: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant
Figure 1. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 10 to 15 feet
Spread: 5 to 10 feet
Plant habit: upright; oval
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: oblong
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristic: spring flowering; winter flowering


Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: purple
Fruit characteristic: attracts birds

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: showy; no thorns
Current year stem/twig color: brown
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: extended flooding; acidic; alkaline; sand; loam; clay
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: moderate
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

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.

Forestiera acuminata is a similar plant hardy into zone 5 that grows in the swamps. Forestiera ligustrina grows in the flatwoods and mesic upland hardwood forests of Florida.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern.



This document is FPS-213, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.