Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Lycium carolinianum var. quadrifidum

Carolina wolfberry, Creeping wolfberry, Carolina desert-thorn

Solanaceae (Potato Family)

Lycium carolinianum var. quadrifidum (Carolina wolfberry)
Marcus, Joseph A.
Carolina Wolfberry is a thinly branched, spiny, upright or somewhat spreading shrub. The new branches may have 1-centimeter-long thick spines, or be unarmed; older branches, however, are spiny. Leaves are somewhat succulent, and variety quadrifidum is distinguished as a variety because it has larger leaves and flowers and more spines, as well as by its more western distribution. Its lavender calyx is wheel-shaped to bell-shaped. Carolina wolfberry is distinctive in having a four-lobed corolla, as most of the plants in the Solanaceae family have five lobes.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Flower: Flowers 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch
Fruit: Tomato red 1/4 to 1/2 inch
Size Class: 1-3 ft. , 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


Native Distribution: From Mississippi to southeast Texas to northeastern Mexico
Native Habitat: About ponds, along and in ditches, marshes, on wet clay flats, salt flats, and in sandy/gravelly soil on brush covered hills.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Seasonally inundated sand, loam, clay, or gravel. Salt-tolerant.
Conditions Comments: Will grow in harsh conditions, but is drought-deciduous, meaning it loses its leaves during summer droughts.


Use Ornamental: Fruits ornamental. Ground cover. Good for wetland gardens and wildlife habitat.
Use Wildlife: Nectar-insects, Fruit-birds, Browse
Attracts: Birds

Last Update: 2009-03-07