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Lycium pallidum

Lycium pallidum

Lycium pallidum

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

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring.
Above: Lower Butler Wash near the San Juan River, April 20, 2017; Yucca House National Monument, May 11, 2017; and Hawkins Preserve (Cortez), May 15, 2017.
left: Lower Butler Wash near the San Juan River, April 7, 2005.

Mature Lycium pallidum shrubs are dense, tall, and narrow, with thorny branches and a profusion of yellow/green/white flowers in the spring followed by red-to-blue berries in the summer and fall. The plant shown at left 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.

As the photograph immediately above shows, on hot dry meadows and slopes Lycium pallidum will have only a single three foot tall main stem and perhaps a few shorter stems leaning outward from the base.

Whether it is found in dry or moist conditions, Lycium pallidum looks quite old, thorny, and dead when it is leafless and dormant.

                       Lycium pallidum

The two photographs at the top of this page, show that flowers can be abundant and quite attractive. The third photograph shows that flowers fade to wrinkled browns giving little hint of their previous beauty. 

The Anasazi must have cultivated this plant for its fruit, because it is very commonly still found associated with their dwelling areas. All of the photographs on this page were taken on or very close to 800 to 1000 year old Anasazi ruins.

"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

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 and 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