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Lycium andersonii

About Water Jacket (Lycium andersonii) Lycium andersonii is a species of flowering shrub in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its common names include water-jacket, redberry desert-thorn, Anderson thornbush, Anderson's desert thorn, Anderson boxthorn, Anderson lycium, Anderson wolfberry, and squawberry.

It is native to the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, where it is distributed in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Baja California, Sinaloa, and Sonora. It grows in many habitat types and plant communities, including pinyon-juniper woodland, creosote bush scrub, sagebrush scrub, chaparral, and coastal sage scrub.

It grows up to about 2.7 metres (8 ft 10 in) in maximum height, with a large fibrous root system that can extend over 9 metres (30 ft) from the base of the plant. The shrub is rounded in shape with many branches covered in many thin spines up to 2 centimetres (0.79 in) long. The flat leaves are thick and fleshy, measuring up to 1.7 centimetres (0.67 in) long. They are shed from the plant in dry conditions. The flowers have funnel-shaped white or purple-tinged corollas up to a centimeter long. The fruit is a red or orange berry less than a centimeter long. One of the main traits of this shrub is a pattern of rotating spike-branches that grow along the main branching stems. The individual spikes get larger and end up as rotating intersecting branches. It's form is dense and thicket-like, often impenetrable even by birds. Berries are produced sometimes in great profusion, sometimes only in external branches, and sometimes not at all. The berries are typically very bitter.

Lycium andersonii typically grows in sandy, gravelly washes and on slopes and mesas. It tolerates some soil salinity and alkaline soils such as caliche. It thrives in hot, dry climates. It is rarely dominant in the local flora. Common associates include creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), yellow palo verde (Parkinsonia microphylla), white bursage, (Ambrosia dumosa), smoke tree (Psorothamnus spinosus), Nevada ephedra (Ephedra nevadensis), hop sage (Grayia spinosa), pale wolfberry (Lycium pallidum), blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), singlewhorl burrobrush (Hymenoclea monogyra), and Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia).
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
8.9 ft (2.7 m)

Flower Color
Purple, Lavender, White

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Gravelly or rocky slopes, washes


Elevation ?
-44' - 7504'

Annual Precip. ?
2.5" - 30.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.18" - 2.83"

Coldest Month ?
32.8° F - 63.4° F

Hottest Month ?
56.5° F - 89.5° F

Humidity ?
1.68 vpd - 47.01 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers sandy or decomposed granite soil


Butterflies hosted ?


Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Anderson Thornbush, Anderson's Desert-thorn, Redberry Desert-thorn, Water-jacket

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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