This is a pretty ubiquitous invasive both in the suburbs and also out in rural areas where Middle Way Nature Reserve is located. It’s really difficult to eradicate as well. There are also about 6 or 7 different invasive privet species, and telling the difference comes down to leaf shape, are they waxy or not, is it deciduous or not (and some are or not depending on how far north they are growing), and are the twigs hairy. That sounds easier than it is. I’m pretty sure this is Chinese Privet. I’ll have to keep an eye on it during the summer to double-check.
Privets come to the U.S. in the mid-1800s and were used for dense hedges. They easily escaped into the environment because they have berries that birds love, and also spread via underground rhizomes and suckers. They can tolerate most growing conditions as well. Why are they so bad? Well, privet eventually dominates the shrub layer in forests, shading out all herbaceous plants, and suppresses the growth of tree seedlings, destroying bio-diversity.
Size: 5-12" tall Family: Oleaceae (Olive family) Habitat: Anywhere it can get a leg up. Forest, roadsides, suburbs, disturbed areas, can tolerate sun and shade. Identification: "Thicket-forming evergreen to semi-evergreen shrub with opposite, mostly elliptical leaves on short [hairy] stalks. Numerous fragrant [or to some stinky], small white flowers in terminal and axillary clusters form berry-like drupes, pale green in summer, bluish black in fall. Flowers April-June, fruits September-November, persisting through winter" From Wildflowers & Plant Communities