The flowers are small and fragrant and borne in panicles. They have four curled-back petals and two high stamens with yellow or red anthers, between which is the low pistil; the petals and stamens fall off after the flower is fertilized, leaving the pistil in the calyx tube. Flowering starts after 330 growing degree days. The fruits, borne in clusters, are small purple to black drupes, poisonous for humans but readily eaten by many birds. In favorable growing conditions, individual shrubs may produce thousands of fruits.
Several cultivars are used in gardens and for hedging, including the Golden Privet.
Privet is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Common Emerald, Common Marbled Carpet, Copper Underwing, The Engrailed, Mottled Beauty, Scalloped Hazel, Small Angle Shades, The V-pug and Willow Beauty.