Anderson Wolfberry – Lycium Andersonii

Lycium andersonii is a species of flowering plant in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its common names include water-jacket, redberry desert-thorn, Anderson thornbush, Anderson’s desert thorn,[ Anderson boxthorn, Anderson lycium, Anderson wolfberry, and squawberry.
The species is native to the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, where it is distributed in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Baja California, Sinaloa, and Sonora. It thrives in hot, dry climates and grows in many habitat types and plant communities, including pinyon-juniper woodland, creosote bush scrub, sagebrush scrub, chaparral, and coastal sage scrub. This plant grows in sandy, gravelly washes and on slopes and mesas. It tolerates some soil salinity and alkaline soils such as caliche. It is rarely dominant in the local flora.
Anderson wolfberry is a slow-growing shrub which appears to be a stress-tolerant competitor and is therefore found in many older seral communities. This species eventually dominates over other colonizing species but gradually gives way to the stress tolerators of the climax communities.
Seeds generally germinate late in the year following summer rains. Root sprouting is another form of regeneration. Adventitious shoots form readily on broken roots. Shoots will actually form on uninjured roots that have been exposed to the air.
This plant is a shrub growing up to about nine feet in maximum height. It grows from a large fibrous root system which can extend over 30 feet from the base of the plant. The shrub is rounded in shape with many branches covered in many thin spines up to eight-tenths of an inch long. The flat leaves are thick and fleshy, measuring up to seven tenths of an inch long. They are shed from the plant in dry conditions. The flowers have funnel-shaped white or purple-tinged corollas up to a centimeter long. In California, flowering occurs from November to April
The plant generally becomes dormant in late May through January, depending on the amount of available moisture.
The fruit of the Anderson Thornbush is a red or orange berry less than a centimeter long.
The red berries are eaten by some birds and mammals. Berries of this plant constituted 2 percent of the diet of chukar partridges living on the eastern desert ranges of California. In some areas of southern
Nevada, the fleshy leaves and juicy berries provide part of the succulence permitting Gambel quail to occupy desert areas devoid of
drinking water. Ord kangaroo rats are also known to eat these berries. Black-chinned hummingbirds are attracted to Anderson wolfberry’s pollen.
Anderson wolfberry is sometimes used as forage by livestock and feral burros. In the lower Colorado River Valley, this shrub can provide an important source of phosphorous and B-carotene for feral burros in late summer and fall when other more preferred species are unavailable.
Palatability of Anderson wolfberry browse is presumably fair to low.
This species is used as forage only when more desirable species are navailable. The fruit, however, appears to be moderately palatable.
Native Americans used the fleshy berries of Anderson wolfberry either fresh or boiled and then dried them for later use. This shrub is also used as an ornamental valued chiefly for its showy red berries.

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