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California Box Thorn
Lycium californicum
  
About California Box Thorn (Lycium californicum) 6 Nurseries Carry This Plant Lycium californicum is a sprawling shrub in the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family known by the common names California boxthorn and California desert-thorn. This plant is native to the coast of southern California, including the Channel Islands, from Los Angeles County into northern Baja California, as well as nearby Arizona. This slightly thorny shrub has thick, fleshy, bulbous green leaves and bell-shaped white flowers with purple streaks or spots. It bears bright red shiny berries 3 to 6 millimeters in diameter which are edible and taste like tomatoes. There are numerous relatives in the Lycium genus that are primarily desert plants, but this species is strictly coastal. In the wild it goes completely leafless in summer and appears dead. However, it responds very rapidly to rain and will even leaf out in response to a summer shower. If given continuous garden water it can remain evergreen.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Plant Type
Shrub

Size
Size
3 ft tall
10 ft wide

Form
Form
Mounding, Spreading

Growth Rate
Growth Rate
Moderate

Dormancy
Dormancy
Summer Deciduous, Summer Semi-Deciduous, Evergreen

Flower Color
Flower Color
White, Purple, Red

Flowering Season
Flowering Season
Spring, Summer

Wildlife Supported
 
Numerous insects are attracted to the flowers. Birds and small mammals are attracted to the fruits

 
Butterflies & moths hosted ( 3 likely * ) SHOW ALL

Landscaping Information
Sun
Sun
Full Sun

Moisture
Moisture
Low, Very Low

Summer Irrigation
Summer Irrigation
Max 1x / month once established

Nurseries
Nurseries

Ease of Care
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Cold Tolerance
Cold Tolerance
Tolerates cold to 25° F

Soil Drainage
Soil Drainage
Fast, Medium, Slow

Soil Description
Soil Description
Typically very sandy but can also tolerate clay. Tolerates Saline Soil. Soil PH: 6.0 - 7.0

Common uses
Common uses
Groundcovers

Maintenance
Maintenance
Because of its rangy habit, it may need to be cut back periodically to control its spread. Prune in late summer when it is leafless.

Propagation
Propagation?
Seeds or cuttings

Sunset Zones
Sunset Zones?
8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Natural Setting
Site Type
Site Type
Buffs and slopes, lagoon edges, marine terraces, and similar areas within about 10 miles of the coast

Climate
Climate
Annual Precipitation: 7.9" - 17.1", Summer Precipitation: 0.15" - 0.40", Coldest Month: 52.1" - 57.5", Hottest Month: 62.7" - 75.4", Humidity: 1.36" - 17.94", Elevation: -151" - 1336"

Alternative Names
Common Names: California Boxthorn, California Desert-thorn, California Wolfberry


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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