Line drawing by L. Haegi.  

Image by Fir002 from Wikimedia Commons

Image by Fir002 from Wikimedia Commons


*Lycium afrum L.,Sp. Pl. 1: 191 (1753)


T: ` Habitat in Africa & in Regno Valentino'; LT: Herb. Clifford: 57, Lycium 2 (BM-000558011), n.v., fide N. Feinbrun & W.T. Stearn, Israel J. Bot. 12: 119 (1963).

An image of the lectotype specimen can be seen on the Linnaean Plant Name Typification Project pages

An image of a specimen from the Linnaean herbarium in Sweden (S-Linn) can be seen on the Swedish Museum of Natural History site at


Shrub to 2 m with rigid branches; lateral branches leafy, ending in a stout spine.

Leaves usually clustered, very narrowly obovate to linear, to 24 mm long, slightly fleshy when fresh, green.

Pedicels 5–8 mm long. Calyx campanulate, 4–5 mm long. Corolla 17–22 mm long, purplish to purplish-brown. Stamens 5, included. Pistil c. 12 mm long. Fruiting calyx split into two major lobes, one 3–toothed, the other 2–toothed.

Berry globose to subglobose, c. 10 mm diam., purplish, with c. 20 seeds. Seeds 3 mm diam., dull yellow-brown.

Distribution and ecology

Native to southern Africa. In Australian an uncommon hedge plant, sparingly naturalised in a few areas in Vic. and with at least one old record from Tas.

Common name

Kaffir Boxthorn

Selected specimens

Vic.: Sorrento, Nov. 1940, P.F. Morris (MEL).


Derivation of epithet

Presumably afrum is a reference to Africa, the source of the type of the species.

Images and information on web

Further information about L. afrum can be found at the project Lycieae site which brings together species lists, keys, publications and world-wide information and images of all species of Lycium.

For images and further information on Lycium afrum in Africa see the Aluka page for this species. Another image showing flowers and leaves can be seen at

For information about the toxicology of Lycium species search in the FDA Poisonous Plant Database