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Lycium pallidum
Lycium pallidum
Lycium pallidum variety pallidum (Wolfberry)
Solanaceae (Potato Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring.
Butler Wash near the San Juan River, April 7, 2005.

Lycium pallidum is a dense, tall, and narrow shrub, with thorny branches and a profusion of yellow-green flowers in the spring followed by red-to-blue berries in the summer and fall.  Often on hot dry slopes Lycium pallidum will have only a single three foot tall main stem and a few shorter stems leaning outward from the base.  The plant shown in  this photograph is over five feet tall and has a number of main stems, for it gets good moisture and nutrients at the base of a large rock face.   Whether it is found in dry or moist conditions, Lycium looks quite old, thorny, and dead when it is leafless and dormant. 

The Anasazi must have cultivated this plant for its fruit, because it is commonly still found associated with their dwelling areas.

"Lycium" is from the ancient Greek for a shrub growing in Lycia in Asia Minor, and "pallidum" is from the Latin for "pale" and probably refers to the pale color of the flower.

The genus was named by Linnaeus in 1753 and although Fremont collected Lycium pallidum in Utah in 1844, Fendler is credited with the first collection of it (from the Santa Fe area) in 1847.

Lycium pallidum
Lycium pallidum variety pallidum (Wolfberry)
Solanaceae (Potato Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring.
Butler Wash near the San Juan River, April 7, 2005.

Lycium pallidum

Lycium pallidum

Lycium pallidum variety pallidum (Wolfberry)
Solanaceae (Potato Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring.
Butler Wash near the San Juan River, May 3, 2007 and Trees of Trail Canyon Ranch, May 11, 2013.

Lycium pallidum
Lycium pallidum variety pallidum (Wolfberry)
Solanaceae (Potato Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring.
Chimney Rock Anasazi Site, September 16, 2005.

Fruits are large and range from red through red/blue.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Lycium pallidum