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Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Lycium ferocissimum


Reproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

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Lycium ferocissimum - boxthorn

Densely-branched, erect, woody, evergreen perennial. Coastal shrub and hedge plant up to 6 m tall, with strong spines at the tips of the branches. Flowers white or pale mauve, followed by 10 mm wide orange-red berries.

  • Flowers Whitish to pale mauve, 10-12 mm in diameter, slender corolla tube 10-13 mm long. Flowers Jul-Mar.
  • Fruit Poisonous orange-red round berries 5-12 mm in diameter. Seeds dispersed by birds.
  • Leaves Narrow, oblong, up to 40 mm long by 12 mm wide, hairless, almost stalkless. Alternate on young shoots, in clusters on mature stems.
  • Stems Tough, woody, alternately branched, with strong 13 mm terminal spines.


Lycium ferocissimum - boxthornHedges, waste places, sand dunes and coastal places.


Common as stock-proof hedging in dairying districts of coastal Auckland and Taranaki in NI. Occasional in coastal localities in SI as far south as Foveaux Strait. Originally from South Africa.


Used as an excellent hedging plant in some areas, and rarely spreads into good pasture, but is a troublesome weed in some broken country. Subject to Pest Plant Management Strategies in several regions of NZ. Details are available from individual regional councils or unitary authorities.

Derivation of name

Lycium Gr. name for a thorny tree; ferocissimum (Lat.) = very savage.


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Web-notes: Weed Links

On this site

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External Links

WeedbustersWeedbusters New Zealand
Weedbusters is a weeds awareness and education programme that aims to protect New Zealand's environment from the increasing weed problem.
A free tool to assist farmers and agricultural professionals in decision-making regarding weed and pest identification, biology, impact and management.
Weed keyNew Zealand Weeds Key
An interactive identification key to the weeds of New Zealand. Developed at Landcare Research.

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network naturalised plants
Search for information on more than 2500 naturalised and weedy plants.
NZ Plant Protection SocietyNew Zealand Plant Protection Society
Their main objective: "To pool and exchange information on the biology of weeds, invertebrate and vertebrate pests, pathogens and beneficial organisms and methods for modifying their effects."
Massey UniversityMassey University Weeds Database
A site providing information about New Zealand weeds and weed control. It has a series of pages showing pictures of New Zealand weeds, notes on identification and control. It also provides information on a university paper entitled Controlling Weeds.

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Last updated: March 1, 2021