African boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum)

African boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum)
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
African boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum)
Photo by B. Worboys
EDRR Species?: 
No

Description
Erect shrub with many rigid branches growing up to 4 meters high and about 3 meters across. The branches are leafy and often end in a spine. The stems are light-brown when immature and brown or grey when mature. The stems branch vigorously. Spines are up to 15 centimeters long, and shoot from the main stems, with smaller spines on the numerous, small branches. Each of these smaller branches ends with a spine. The leaves are glabrous (without hairs or scales), green, fleshy, elliptic to obovate, and up to 40 millimeters long and 4 to 10 millimeters wide. They are clustered in groups of 5 to 12, but on young shoots, single, alternate leaves may appear for a brief time at the many nodes. The leaves are larger and more succulent on regrowth from damaged plants. Flowers appear either singly or in pairs at the leaf-stem junction. They are white or pale lilac with a lilac-purplish throat and are about 1 centimeter in diameter, 5-petaled and fragrant. The calyx (the sepals of one flower collectively) is 4 to 7 millimeters long and has 5 unequal teeth. The flowers are 10 to 12 millimeters long with the 5 stamen projecting 2 to 4 millimeters past the petals. The fruit is a berry that is smooth and shiny with a short, drooping stalk. It is globose (ball-shaped) to broad-ovoid shaped and is 5 to 10 millimeters in diameter, with a prominent calyx. The berry ripens to a dull orange-red color with up to 35 to 70 seeds. The seeds are 2.5 millimeters long by 1.5 millimeters wide, ovoid or irregular in shape, and flattened. They are light-brown to yellow, and dull, with small raised dots on the surface.