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Carolina Wolfberry, Creeping Wolfberry, Large-flowered Wolfberry, Matrimony-vine, Box-thorn, Christmas-berry
Lycium carolinianum var. quadrifidum


In Texas Carolina wolfberry inhabits coastal areas of salt flats, ditches and brackish marshes, wet clay, sandy soil and shell mounds. It ranges eastward to Louisiana, Florida and North Carolina, west into Baja, California and south into Mexico and the West Indies. It is a thinly branched, spiny, upright or somewhat spreading shrub. The new branches may have 1-centimeter-long thick spines, or be unarmed; older branches, however, are spiny. Leaves are somewhat succulent, and variety quadrifidum is distinguished as a variety because it has larger leaves and flowers and more spines, as well as by its more western distribution. These characters are not constant as there are many intergrades. Its lavender calyx is wheel-shaped to bell-shaped. Carolina wolfberry is distinctive in having a four-lobed corolla, as most of the plants in the Solanaceae family have five lobes. The fleshy red berry fades to purple in old or dried branches. It resembles a tomato and was eaten raw or dried by Native Americans. It is relished by whooping cranes and other wild fowl. Carolina wolfberry grows quickly and well in sand and tolerates standing water for lengthy periods, yet it is also resistant to drought and is well suited to cultivation in dryish areas. It could be used for erosion control. It will remain evergreen with summer watering.

Plant Habit or Use: small shrub

Exposure: sun
partial sun

Flower Color: lavender, purple

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: red berry

Height: 1 to 3 feet

Width: 1 1/2 to 2 feet

Plant Character: deciduous

Heat Tolerance: high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: alkaline

USDA Hardiness Zone: 9

Additional Comments:

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