Lycium ferocissimum Miers
African Boxthorn

Ann.Mag.Nat.Hist. Ser. 2, 14:187-188 (1854)
Conservation Code
Not threatened
Naturalised Status
Alien to Western Australia
Name Status

Intricately branched, spiny shrub, 0.5-2.5(-4) m high. Fl. white-purple-blue, Apr to May or Aug to Dec. Waste grounds.

Grazyna Paczkowska, Descriptive Catalogue, 23 April 1996


IBRA Regions
Avon Wheatbelt, Carnarvon, Coolgardie, Esperance Plains, Gascoyne, Geraldton Sandplains, Hampton, Mallee, Nullarbor, Swan Coastal Plain, Yalgoo.
IBRA Subregions
Augustus, Eastern Goldfield, Edel, Fitzgerald, Geraldton Hills, Hampton, Katanning, Lesueur Sandplain, Merredin, Nullarbor Plain, Perth, Recherche, Western Mallee, Wooramel.
IMCRA Regions
Abrolhos Islands, Central West Coast, Leeuwin-Naturaliste, WA South Coast.
Local Government Areas (LGAs)
Beverley, Carnamah, Carnarvon, Cockburn, Cunderdin, Dundas, Esperance, Fremantle, Greater Geraldton, Irwin, Jerramungup, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Kulin, Mingenew, Murchison, Nedlands, Northampton, Perth, Ravensthorpe, Rockingham, Shark Bay, Tammin, York.

Management Notes (for the Swan NRM Region)

General Biology. Growth form. Shrub. Life form. More than 2 years. Reproduction. Seed. Dispersal. Birds, mammals, water, skinks, garden refuse, soil movement.. Time of first flowering. Second Year. Seedbank persistence. Probably short, days-1 year. Fire response. Probably resprouts after fire.

Notes. African Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum) is a dense woody shrub up to 4 m high and 3 m wide, without any hairs on any of the parts. Rigid branches end in long spines, up to 15 cm long. Leaves are small (up to 4 cm long by 1 cm wide), fleshy and often clustered in groups. The tubular flowers are about 10 mm in diameter and 10-12 mm long with five lobes, white or pale purplish with deeper purple inside the flower. The fruit is a red to orange, shining berry on a short down-turned stalk. It is round, 5-10 mm diameter and slightly wider at the end away from the green calyx which envelops the base of the fruit. Seeds are oval or irregular in outline shape, flattened, 2.5 by 1.5 mm, light brown to yellow..

Additional information. Origin. South Africa. History of use/introduction. African Boxthorn was introduced as a hedge plant for boundary demarcation, or possibly even as a garden plant, in the 1800s. Its wide use for this purpose in rural areas resulted in its extensive occurrence and naturalization.. Similar exotic species. L. barbarum, L. afrum. Similar native species. L. australe.

Suggested method of management and control. Some mechanical control of African Boxthorn is possible but there is likely to be re-growth from soil seed stores or from the taproot, meaning that cultivation and/or herbicides may need to be the next step. Herbicides can be applied as foliar sprays when the plants are actively growing, spraying around the base of stems to a height of 30-40 cm above ground level or cutting each stem off at ground level and immediately applying herbicide to the cut surface. Where there are no native plants to be affected, a residual herbicide can be applied to the soil between the base of the plant and the drip-line, usually when the soil is wet or rain is expected Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. For further information consult the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to determine the status of permits for your situation or state.

Management Calendar

Calendar Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Comments
Active Growth Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y  
Flowering Y Y Y Y Y O O O O O O Y  
Fruiting Y Y Y Y Y O O O O O O Y  
Germination Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y  

Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.



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