Thursday 12 January 2017


Lycium ferocissimum (African boxthorn or boxthorn) is a shrub in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). The species is native to Cape Province and Orange Free State in South Africa and has become naturalised in Australia and New Zealand. It is listed on the Noxious Weed List for Australian States and Territories and is a declared noxious weed in the United States.

African boxthorn is a large shrub which grows up to 5 metres high and is covered in spines. The leaves are oval in shape and are 10–40 millimetres long and 4–10 millimetres in width. The solitary flowers emerge from the leaf axils and are purplish. The species was first formally described in 1854 by British botanist John Miers in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History. His description was based on plant material collected from Uitenhage in South Africa.

African boxthorn is an aggressive invader of pastures, roadsides, reserves, remnant bushland and waterways. It forms an impenetrable, spiny thicket that inhibits the movement of stock and provides a haven for feral animals. Many insects, including fruit fly, the common house fly and the tomato fly, breed in the fruit of this weed.

This plant is toxic to humans and will cause discomfort and irritation, but is not life-threatening. The berries, leaves, stems and roots are all poisonous, and can cause nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulties and unconsciousness. Get the person to an emergency department of a hospital ASAP, especially so if they are unconscious.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
and also part of the Friday Greens meme.


  1. So interesting; with flowers and berries in the same time. Interesting!

  2. I assume people brought the boxthorn from Cape Province and Orange Free State to Australia and New Zealand because the plant is strong, tall and very attractive. But do families in Australia and NZ have to place a warning sign next to boxthorn bushes, with clear health warnings?

  3. I'm no familiar with boxthorn but the flowers are berries are very attractive. I would worry about the toxicity.

  4. I remember these everywhere when I was a kid, but rarely see one now. Eradication must be working at least in our area.


Feel free to comment, I'd really like to hear from you!
Please do not use this comment box to advertise your goods and services!