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Common names: Boxthorn, African Boxthorn
Taxonomic name: Lycium ferocissimum
Flowering time: Spring to Autumn
Area of origin: South Africa
Warnings: Don’t eat the leaves, they can upset your stomach. Don’t eat the green berries, only the red. Be careful of those thorns. They’ll punch through thongs and sandals.
African Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum) is a prickly customer from South Africa. It has long spines are the bane of farmers and foragers alike. In the past, African Boxthorn has been use as a fencing or hedging plant but now is far more of a pest, though where it has replaced native plants, it provides a place of refuge for small birds and animals.
Boxthorn has tasty red berries that care well worth the effort of fighting the dense branches and thorns. It’s not really that bad, there’s enough berries on the outside of the plant to get easily with only a minor jab or two. Like most Solanum plants, only eat the berries when they’re ripe, not green – they’ll make you sick.
I couldn’t find much about its nutrient content but it’s a relative of the Goji Berry, so might have similar compounds in it. It’s been a great tradition in Australia to make a tasty jam from the berries.
Very spiny shrub up to 3 metres tall and up to 3 metres wide. 5 petalled, white or light lilac flowers with darker purple markings inside grow in the forks of the leaves Leaves are hairless and fleshy, in groups at stem joints. Fruit is orange to red when ripe.