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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.
Flower: Flowers 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.
Fruit: Red, 1/4 inch.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Purple
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec
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 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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Web ReferenceWebref 57 - Atlas of Florida Plants (2020) Institute for Systematic Botany
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Research LiteratureReslit 190 - Growth patterns of Carolina wolfberry (Lycium carolinianum L.) in the salt marshes of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, USA (2006) R. E. Butzler and S. E. Davis
This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
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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: 2023-02-17
Research By: TWC Staff