Lycium spp

There are 10 species of Wolfberry in AZ; all are spiny, nectar rich and generally grow as a sprawling shrub. Flowers are usually small, and pale-pink to lavender in color. Flowering is sporadic throughout the year, often in response to rains. Fruits are orange to red and edible, tasting like a tart, salty tomato.

Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Status: Native
Origin: Varies
Family: Solanaceae, Nightshade or Potato Family
Size: Varies
Sun: Full to light shade
Watering: Supplemental only
Growth Rate: Moderate
Soil: Tolerant
Temperature: Hardy into the low 20s F.
Pruning: None
Disease and Pests:
Uses: Host for the Mexican Agapema Silkmoth, Sphinx moth, Prominent moth and Crambid moth. Excellent nectar source. Bird nesting habitat. Special value to native bees.
Notes: Fall flowers are a nectar source for bees and butterflies

Common AZ Species

  • Lycium brevipes: In cultivation it flowers any month with best blooms from November through March. Common names include Baja Desert Thorn, Fruitilla.
  • Lycium andersonii: Rounded bush 4-6′ tall. Common names include Anderson Wolfberry, Desert Wolfberry and Thornberry.
  • Lycium berlandieri: Upright bush 4-8′ tall. Common name is Berlandier’s Wolfberry.
  • Lycium californicum: Rounded bush to 6′ tall by 10′ across. Common name is California Box Thorn.
  • Lycium exsertum: Rounded bush to 8′ x 8′. Common names are Arizona Desert Thorn and Thornbush.
  • Lycium fremontii: Rounded bush to 6′ tall. Common name is Fremont’s Thornbush.


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