Alphabetical Plant Listing

Lycium carolinianum (Christmas Berry)

Carolina Wolfberry, Carolina Desert-Thorn, Creeping Wolfberry, Christmas Berry, Christmasberry


Lycium carolinianum (Christmas Berry) is a small sprawling shrub with erect or spreading, rigid branches, often armed with thorns, and covered with tiny, linear, succulent leaves. Tardily deciduous or evergreen, the bright green leaves are borne in clusters along the branches. They drop to the ground in dry weather as a drought avoidance mechanism, but the next wet period brings new leaves. In summer and fall, four-petaled, tubular, lavender to blue flowers usually occur singly on slender stalks rising from the leaf axils. Nectar-rich, the blossoms attract hummingbirds, a variety of butterflies, moths and bees. They are followed by bright red, fleshy berries, which ripen in late fall or early winter. Edible, fresh or dried, they have a sweet, tomato-like flavor. Only the fully ripe fruits should be eaten. While toxic to some animals, the berries are a favorite food source for many birds. Christmas Berry can be found in the southeastern United States, Cuba or Mexico, at the edge of salt marshes and on sandy shell mounds. Hurricane wind resistant, it is very tolerant to salt spray and drought conditions and is great for coastal landscapes. Its interesting foliage, pretty flowers and showy berries add year-round interest to the landscape while providing food and cover for wildlife. Very adaptable, Christmas Berry can be trained into a small multi-trunked tree, or it can be grown in a container or raised planter. Great as a specimen or en masse to form a hedge too.

  • Grows up to 3-9 ft. tall (90-270 cm) and 3-5 ft. wide (90-150 cm).
  • Thrives in moist, saline, sandy or calcareous soils in full sun to light shade. Tolerant of short periods of drought once established. Tolerant of occasional/brief inundation such as can occur in storm surges. Can tolerate significant and ongoing amounts of salty wind and salt spray without injury. Can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.
  • Virtually pest and disease free.
  • Propagate by seed.
  • Native to the southeastern United States, Cuba and Mexico.

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Requirements

Hardiness 8 – 11
Plant Type Shrubs
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 3' – 9' (90cm – 270cm)
Spread 3' – 5' (90cm – 150cm)
Spacing 36" – 60" (90cm – 150cm)
Water Needs Average, High
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, Southeast, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Southwest, Texas
Tolerance Drought, Salt
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Beds and Borders, Hedges and Screens
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage

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Jason Hollinger, Homer Edward Price, Flickr, Archaeopteryx Tours, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 8 – 11
Plant Type Shrubs
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 3' – 9' (90cm – 270cm)
Spread 3' – 5' (90cm – 150cm)
Spacing 36" – 60" (90cm – 150cm)
Water Needs Average, High
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, Southeast, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Southwest, Texas
Tolerance Drought, Salt
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Beds and Borders, Hedges and Screens
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage

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