Here we have another One of Those. This is Privet and you might wonder what can possibly be wrong with something that has been used as a hedge in thousands of gardens for hundreds of years. Pliny the Elder, that Roman General and Naval Commander who collected wild flowers in his spare time, mentions it in his encyclopedia Naturalis Historia (in around AD 60 or so). In England it was mentioned in the Oxford English Dictionary of 1542 and in 1777 it was recommended to people planting gardens in the smoke filled suburbs of London, as it tolerated this highly polluted environment well. Not much changes, does it?
It is found at its most diverse in China and the Himalayas – they say, and it is on a round-the-world working holiday, trying to fit in as many countries as possible.
So, you might think that we and the Privet are on good terms and get along well together. Come on, you know humanity better than that. The leaves are very poisonous to horses, the scent from the flowers is unpleasantly strong, the pollen causes skin complaints and the berries are poisonous to people. Moreover it out competes many bee-friendly native plants, while not being particularly bee-friendly itself.
Naturally, we have surrounded ourselves with the stuff and use it as a remedy for stomach ulcers and a tonic to improve the appetite. Kill or cure is alive and well.