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Christmasberry, Carolina desertthorn
Lycium carolinianum

Copyright by: George D. Gann

General Landscape Uses: Accent shrub in low coastal areas.

Availability: Native plant nurseries. Available in Homestead at Plant Creations Inc. (305-248-8147).

Description: Medium shrub with open, usually somewhat spiny branches. Leaves succulent, dull green, small.

Dimensions: About 6-8 feet in height; rarely to 10 feet. About as broad as tall, but with a very open structure.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Southeastern United States west to Texas and south to the Monroe County Keys; Cuba and Mexico.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Coastal berms; margins of mangrove swamps.

Soils: Periodically innundated to moist, moderately well-drained to poorly-drained brackish soils, with humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.

Salt Water Tolerance: Moderate; tolerates brackish water or occasional inundation by salt water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: Moderate; generally requires moist soils, but tolerant of short periods of drought once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: Lavender to lilac or rarely white.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy, 3/8" wide.

Flowering Season: All year; peak summer-fall.

Fruit: Bright red succulent berry. Winter.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides significant food and cover for wildlife. Nectar plant for great southern white (Ascia monuste), gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), and other butterflies, and attracts sphinx moths and bee pollinators. A variety of birds eat the ripe fruit.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from de-pulped seed and cuttings.

References: Hammer 2004, Nelson 2003, Schaefer & Tanner 1997

Comments: The bright red fruits are very showy. See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday page.

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: Steven W. Woodmansee

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Susan Trammell

Copyright by: Kristen Finch
In cultivation, Palm Beach County, FL, 2013

Copyright by: Kristen Finch
In cultivation, Palm Beach County, FL, 2013

Copyright by: Kristen Finch
In cultivation, Palm Beach County, FL, 2013

Copyright by: Susan Trammell

Other data on Lycium carolinianum available from:

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