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Desert-thorn (Lycium spp.)
Shrubs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Peach thron (Lycium cooperi)

General: The Desert-thorns (Lycium spp.) also called box-thorns and wolfberry, are stout, upright shrubs with many tiny leaves and stiff thorns at the tip of each little stem. These shrubs are deciduous, quickly loosing their leaves as the summer heats up. There are several species of Desert-thorn in the deserts around Las Vegas, differing in the nature of the leaves and flowers.

The Desert-thorns are common components of vegetation communities in drier areas along washes, on bajadas, and into the lower mountains in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) life zones.

Anderson's Desert-thorn (Lycium andersoni)

Family: Nightshade (Solanaceae).

Other Names: desert thorn, box thorn, box-thorn, wolfberry.

Plant Form: Upright, stout shrubs.

Height: To about 12 feet, usually about 4-5 feet.

Anderson's Desert-thorn (Lycium andersoni)

Bark: often whitish with darker stripes.

Stems: Generally upright, stout, each tiny stem tipped with a thorn.

Leaves: Small. Depending on species, round and fleshy to flat and broad

Flowers: Blooms spring through early summer. Inflorescence: flowers from leaf axils. Flower funnel-shaped with 4 or 5 spreading lips, white to purple.

Pale Desert-thorn (Lycium pallidum)

Fruit: berry, red.

Habitat: Dry, well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils on upper bajadas and moderate slopes in the lower mountains.

Elevation: About 0 to 3,000 feet.

Distribution: Southwestern US.


Peach thron (Lycium cooperi) Peach thorn (Lycium cooperi). Flat leaves, long white flowers.
Fremont's Desert-thorn (Lycium fremontii)

Fremont's Desert-thorn (Lycium fremontii). Flat leaves, long purple flowers.

Anderson's Desert-thorn (Lycium andersoni) Anderson's Desert-thorn (Lycium andersoni). Fleshy leaves, white flowers.
Pale Desert-thorn (Lycium pallidum). Pale Desert-thorn (Lycium pallidum). Flat leaves, short, white flowers.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
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