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Article: African Boxthorn

African Boxthorn_Lycium ferocissimum..

Common Name

African Boxthorn, Boxthorn, Cape Boxthorn

Scientific Name

Lycium ferocissimum





Seasons of Growth


Key Distinguishing Feature

Thorny shrub with slender leaves and orange-red berries

Due to its invasive nature and negative impacts on ecosystems, African Boxthorn is considered a significant weed that requires active management to limit its spread and impact.

  • Growth Form: African Boxthorn is a thorny, woody shrub that can grow up to 4 meters in height.

  • Leaves: The leaves are small, narrow, and often rolled along the edges. They are typically green to greyish-green.

  • Thorns: One of the most distinctive features of African Boxthorn is its thorny branches. It produces paired spines at the base of leaves.

  • Flowers: It produces small, tubular, five-petaled flowers that are usually pale lavender to purple in colour.

  • Fruit: The plant produces small, fleshy, and orange-red berries. These berries are a key feature in its spread, as birds eat them and spread the seeds.

  • Habitat: African Boxthorn can be found in a variety of habitats, including coastal areas, disturbed sites, and agricultural land.


Ecological Impact:

  • African Boxthorn is considered a highly invasive species in many regions, including Australia. It can outcompete native vegetation and disrupt local ecosystems.

  • The thorny branches of African Boxthorn can create impenetrable thickets, making it difficult for animals and people to move through infested areas.

  • It is a host for several plant diseases and pests, further impacting agricultural and natural ecosystems.


Control Methods:

  • Control of African Boxthorn often involves mechanical methods, such as cutting and removal of the plant.

  • Chemical herbicides can also be used for control, but caution is required to minimize damage to non-target species.

  • Biological control methods, including the introduction of insects that feed on African Boxthorn, have been explored as a long-term control strategy.


Key Products for Control:

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