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Marcus, Joseph A.
Lycium carolinianum Walt.
Carolina wolfberry, Carolina desert-thorn, Creeping wolfberry, Christmas berry
USDA Symbol: LYCA2
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
The spiny branches of this shrub are erect or spreading, may be up to 6 ft. long, and bear small, succulent leaves. The four-petaled, somewhat tubular, lavender to blue flowers usually occur singly and are followed by fleshy, red berries.
The Christmas Berry is a member of the nightshade family (family Solanaceae) which includes herbs, shrubs, vines, and trees with often showy flowers generally in branched clusters.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf Retention: Evergreen Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Breeding System:
Flowers Bisexual Size Notes:
4-6 feet. Leaf:
Flowers 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch Fruit:
Red 1/4 inch Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
AL , FL , GA , LA , MS , SC , TX Native Distribution:
Coastal plain from SC to TX Native Habitat:
Ditches, Ravines, Depressions, Swamps, Marshes USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
High Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist CaCO3 Tolerance:
Medium Cold Tolerant:
Coastal sands; tolerates salinity. Gravelly, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Saline tolerant. Conditions Comments:
The spiny branches of this shrub
are erect or spreading, and bear small, succulent leaves. The four-petaled, somewhat tubular, lavender to blue flowers usually occur singly and are followed by fleshy, red berries. The berries are edible and have a sweet, tomato-like taste. Tolerates saline sites.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Fruits ornamental, Ground cover
Use Wildlife: Nectar-insects, Fruit-birds, Browse: deer, racoons and other wildlife.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Nectar Source: yes
Propagation by seed is possible. Seed Collection:
Ripe berries may be picked from the bushes in the fall and the seeds extracted by maceration. Seed Treatment:
Seed dormancy in this genus
is variable. Seeds of some species may require stratification at 41 degrees for 60-120 days. Commercially Avail:
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Austin, TX
Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-1093
Collected 2011-09-07 in Cameron County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
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Record Modified: 2009-02-09
Research By: TWC Staff