WEED PROFILE: African Boxthorn Lycium ferocissimum

African Boxthorn Lycium ferocissimum

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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.

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Source: Weed.org.au Website  16th May 2016

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