Weed Identification

Australia > > African Boxthorn

African Boxthorn

Lycium ferocissimum

THIS PLANT HAS BEEN DECLARED A WEED OF NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE

Family: Solanaceae.

Form: Shrub

Origin: Native to South Africa.

Flowers/Seedhead: Flowers: Singly or in pairs at the leaf-stem junction. White with purplish throat, about 1 cm diameter; 5-petalled; fragrant. Flowers to 12 mm long with male part of the flower (stamen) projecting to 4 mm past the petals. Flowers mostly summer but some flowering throughout year.

Description: Much branched shrub to 6 m high. Leaves fleshy, elliptic to 4 cm long (see photo). Berry to 1 cm wide on short drooping stalk. Seeds 2.5 mm long, dull yellow.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by rigid branches with side branches mostly longer than 1 cm, leafy and ending in a stout spine, and berries that are globe- to egg-shaped and ripening red with up to 70 seeds.

Dispersal: Spread by seed. Fruit is commonly eaten by foxes and birds and viable seeds are excreted. Often forms dense stands as a result of these animals feeding and remaining in the vicinity of fruiting boxthorn. Shoots readily from broken roots.

Confused With: Other Lycium species. Native Australian Boxthorn Lycium australe grows in subsaline soil at the edge of salt lakes and claypans in arid areas of Australia but this species has narrow leaves usually less than 5 mm long. Chinese Boxthorn Lycium barbarum has shorter leafless spines and ovate leaves with an acute tip.


Fleshy leaves, flowers white with lilac-
purple markings in the throat & shiny,
red, drooping fruit

Notes: Introduced as a garden or hedge plant in the mid 1800s. Now a serious weed, particularly on neglected land in arid temperate Australia. May produce thickets that become refuges for feral animals.

References:

    Noxious Weeds of Australia. W. Parsons and E. Cuthbertson, 1992, pages 601603. Flora of Australia. 1982, Vol. 29, pages 6366.

Web References: Search Australian web sites for further information on this weed.


Thicket of Boxthorn at Hay, NSW

Terminal spines
& leaves

This weed has been included in the WEEDeck field guide as card S10

More information about WEEDeck is available from Sainty & Associates Pty. Ltd.

 

Australia > > African Boxthorn

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