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Lycium torreyi (Torrey wolfberry)
Anderson, Wynn

Lycium torreyi

Lycium torreyi A. Gray

Torrey Wolfberry, Desert-thorn, Box-thorn, Squawberry, Rabbit-thorn, Tomatillo, Garambullo

Solanaceae (Potato Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Spiny (sometimes nearly unarmed), spreading to sprawling shrub often forming thickets. To 3 meters in height. Spatulate to oblanceolate-elliptic to 5 cm in length, borne thickly on the branches and dehiscing during droughts to be quickly replaced after rains. Flowers 1 to 3 in a fascicle, greenish-lavender to white, with five corolla lobes. Berries are bright red and juicy.


From the Image Gallery

26 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Oblanceolate , Spatulate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acute
Leaf Texture: Leathery , Smooth
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 10 feet tall.
Fruit: Bright red. 6-10mm

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green , Violet
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Often flowers after fall rains. Fruit is produced from June through September.


USA: AZ , CA , NM , NV , TX , UT
Native Distribution: TX, NM, AZ, UT, NV, CA and MX.
Native Habitat: Mesquite, Saltbush, Tarbush and Creosotebush scrubland near arroyos and on alkalai sacatons.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Fine, silty, alluvial soils.
Conditions Comments: West Texas from El Paso to Big Bend.


Use Wildlife: Berries are eaten by birds. Cover and habitat for birds and small mammals.
Attracts: Birds


Propagation Material: Seeds , Semi-hardwood Cuttings

National Wetland Indicator Status

Status: FAC
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Lycium torreyi in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Lycium torreyi in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Lycium torreyi


Record Modified: 2022-10-19
Research By: Joe Marcus

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