Lycium carolinianum Walter
Carolina wolfberry, Carolina desert-thorn, Creeping wolfberry, Christmas berry
Solanaceae (Potato Family)
USDA Symbol: lyca2
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.
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Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Size Notes: 4-6 feet.
Flower: Flowers 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch
Fruit: Red 1/4 inch
Size Class: 3-6 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
DistributionUSA: AL , FL , GA , LA , MS , SC , TX
Native Distribution: Coastal plain from SC to TX
Native Habitat: Ditches, Ravines, Depressions, Swamps, Marshes
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: 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
PropagationDescription: 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: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Suppliers DirectoryAccording to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Far South Wholesale Nursery - Austin, TX
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-1093 Collected 2007-09-06 in Cameron County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
BibliographyBibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Lycium carolinianum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Lycium carolinianum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Lycium carolinianum
MetadataRecord Modified: 2009-02-09
Research By: TWC Staff