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Common Name
Photo #1
Scientific Name
Nine species, including: Lycium pallidum Miers; Lycium andersonii A. Gray; Lycium berlandieri Dunal; Lycium fremontii A.Gray; Lycium brevipes Benth.
Species Description
Wolfberry species are spiny, densely branched, deciduous, perennial shrubs. Spreading to erect plants may form dense thickets. Leaves are alternate, simple, drought deciduous, broadly obovate to spatulate, entire along the margins, blue to gray-green, somewhat thickened and fleshy. Flowers are monoecious; narrow tubular white to pale lavender, appearing in spring. Fruits are fleshy, orange-red, oval berries, that hang downward and ripen in early summer.


AZ Native or Introduced
Native of Arizona
Natural Range
Lycium pallidum ranges from southern CO, NV, NM, AZ, CA, western TX and northern MX. Lycium andersonnii ranges from CA, NV, UT, AZ, NM. Lycium berlandieri and L. fremontii native to northwestern Mexico, southwestern United States; Lycium brevipes ranges from northwestern Mexico to AZ and CA.
Natural Habitat
Desert, upland, plains, flats, dry rocky slopes, mesas, bajadas, washes, riparian habitats. Wolfberry grows in sunny locations in riparian areas, higher elevation deserts, chaparral, grasslands, and juniper woodlands.
Cultural-Historic Notes
Food source for Southwest Indigenous peoples


Growth Form
  • Shrub
Tree or Understory
Other Growth Characteristics
  • Thorns / Spines
Growth Rate
Canopy Diameter
3-10 feet
Tree Height
3-13 feet
Some species up to 90 years
Chill Hours
Freeze Tolerance
Mildly frost tolerant to cold hardy depending on species (L. brevipes less frost tolerant, L. andersonnii mildly frost tolerant, L. pallidum cold hardy).
Site, Micro-Climate, and Growing Considerations
Full sun. Plants are thorny so plant in open areas that do not have heavy foot traffic, can be used as hedgerows and borders.
Elevation Range
L. pallidum grows from 3500-7000 ft. L. andersonnii grows from 1500-6000 ft; L. berlandieri and L. fremontii below 3000 ft; L. brevipes less than 2000 ft.
Appropriate Arizona Elevation Categories
  • HIGH PLATEAU, MOUNTAIN: Prescott, Tuba City, Winslow, Page - USDA Zones 7a-7b (0ºF-10ºF)
  • HIGH DESERT: Sierra Vista, Kingman, Globe, Wilcox - USDA Zones 8a-8b (10-20ºF)
  • MID DESERT: Tucson, Ajo, Safford, Casa Grande - USDA Zones 9a-9b (20-30ºF)
  • LOW DESERT: Phoenix, Lake Havasu City, Yuma - USDA Zones 9b-10a (25-35ºF)
USDA Interactive Plant Zone Map for Arizona


Relative Plant Water Use
  • Low: 10-20 inches / year
Post-Establishment Irrigation Needs
  • None


Perfect flowers of L. andersonnii pollinated by birds such as hummingbirds.
Grows in a range of soil types form sandy, gravelly, loamy to clay. Prefers well drained soils. Tolerant of saline soils.
Wolfberry species can be propagated from seed, cuttings, root suckering and layering. Plant seeds in fall as soon as fruits ripen or cold stratify seeds at 40 degrees F (60-120 days for some species) to plant in the spring.
Pruning Notes
Prune to space.


Edible Parts
The ripe red berries are edible raw, cooked, or dried.
Harvest Months
  • July
  • August
Harvest and Processing Guide

Copyright November 2016

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