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Family: Solanaceae Synonymy: Lycium pallidum var oligospermum (1). Etymology

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Lycium pallidum Miers

by Perry Crampton, Native Plants Class 2003
Common names:
Pale wolfberry, pale desert thorn; desert-, rabbit-,box- or squawthorn, tomatilla.

Family: Solanaceae

Synonymy: Lycium pallidum var. oligospermum (1).

Etymology: Lycium refers to the ancient country of Lycia in Asia Minor; pallidum refers to the pale flowers and leaves (2).

Growth form: The pale wolfberry is a thorny, intricately-branched shrub with stems 1 to 3 meters tall. Branches may be spreading to erect. Plants may form dense thickets (4).

Roots: The roots are tough and fibrous. Root systems are relatively extensive in comparison with aerial portions, often extending 7.5 to 9 meters from the plant (5).

Stems: Arching, glabrous or pubescent with few stout thorns (2).

Leaves: Leaves are pale gray green, elongate-oblong, clustered around short, sharp thorns (4)..

Inflorescences/flowers: Flowers are greenish cream, sometimes tinged with purple, and funnelform in shape. The corolla tube is longer than 12 mm. The stamens are usually exerted (4).

Fruit: Reddish berries, ovoid, I cm or less in diameter, 20 – 50 seeds (4).

Similar species: Lycium pallidum var. oligospermum, Lycium andersonii, Lycium fremontii (4).

Life history: Perennial
Native/introduced: Native (6).

Photosynthetic pathway:
Phenology: Pale wolfberry flowers from February to June (4). Also, may produce leaf and flower buds after summer and fall rains (5). Seeds are dispersed by birds and other animals, including humans that eat the berries(4).

Distribution: Pale wolfberry ranges from southern Colorado, Utah, and Nevada south to California, Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas. It is also found in Mexico in Sonora, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosi (3). In Arizona occurs 1060 to 2120 meters (5).

Uses: Native Americans have eaten the berries and have used the plant for a wide variety of medicinal purposes. Grown as an ornamental. Used to rehabilitate disturbed lands and livestock browse. Berries eaten by birds and other wildlife. Indicator of middens. (4).




4. 5.

6. Raven, Peter H. Native shrubs of Southern California, University of California Press, Berkeley, California. 1966.

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