Photo: M. Fagg M. Fagg

Line drawing by B. Osborn (Flora of Australia, vol. 29).

Line drawing by L. Haegi.

Line drawingby G. Dashorst, Fl. S. Aus . 3,  f. 566 partly (1986).


Lycium australe F. Muell., Fragm. Phytogr. Austral. 1: 83 (1859)

T: Murray Scrub, Mueller; lecto: MEL 501790, fide L. Haegi, Austral. J. Bot. 24: 671 (1976); Murray Scrub, Behr, and Murray, Mueller; syn: MEL 501792 (mixed sheet); Murray, Behr, and Victoria, Mueller; syn: K (mixed sheet) n.v., photo ADW (= AD).


Intricately branched shrub to 2.5 m with rigid branches; lateral branches leafy, often ending in a spine.

Leaves usually clustered, narrowly obovoid to ellipsoid, to 25 mm long, thick and fleshy, greyish-green.

Pedicels 2–5 mm long, sometimes longer. Calyx tubular to ellipsoid, 1.5–5 mm long. Corolla 8–12 mm long, creamy white, lilac towards limb; limb spreading. Stamens 4 or 5, included or scarcely exserted. Pistil 5–8 mm long.

Fruiting calyx not deeply split. Berry ovoid to ellipsoid, 2–5 mm diam., dull orange-red, with 5–20 seeds. Seeds 1.5–2 mm long, 1–1.5 mm wide, dull yellow.

Distribution and ecology

Endemic to the Australian mainland, in arid and semi-arid areas of N.S.W., Vic., S.A. and W.A.

Grows in subsaline soil at edges of salt lakes and claypans.

Common name

Australian Boxthorn


In W.A. the plants are often more robust, with slightly larger leaves, flowers and fruits which approach L. afrum L. in size.

The fruits are edible.


Selected specimens

W.A.: 447 mile peg, Great Northern Highway, A.S. George 3640 (PERTH). S.A.: c. 15 km E of Port Augusta, D.E. Symon 497 (ADW). N.S.W.: Kudgee Lake, 21 July 1955, E.F. Constable (NSW). Vic.: Hattah Lakes National Park, 29 Aug. 1969, G.W. Anderson (MEL).

Derivation of epithet

From australe, south, a reference to the occurrence of this species in Australia.

Images and information on web

An image of L. australe can be seen on the Western Australian Herbarium Florabase website at

A fact sheet for this species can be downloaded from the SA eFlora site.

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

Information about the toxic properties of Lycium species can be found with a search in the FDA Poisonous Plant Database

Plant status (if any)

Without any declared rating in W.A. – see