Intricately branched, spiny shrub, 0.5-2.5(-4) m high. Fl. white-purple-blue, Apr to May or Aug to Dec. Waste grounds.
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.
Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.