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Common Name: Christmas Berry
Lycium carolinianum is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 1.50 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, it does belong to a family that contains many poisonous plants. Some caution should be applied, especially towards leaves or unripe fruits, though ripe fruits are almost certainly edible.
South-eastern N. America - S. Carolina to Florida and Texas.
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils[
]. It does not require a rich soil, flowering and fruiting better in a well-drained soil of moderate quality[
]. Succeeds in impoverished soils[
]. Requires a sunny position[
]. Tolerates maritime exposure[
This species is not very hardy outside the milder areas of Britain, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[
Fruit - raw or cooked. Rather pleasant eating, the fruit has a slightly salty taste[
]. The fruit is a berry up to 12mm in diameter[
]. Only the fully ripe fruits should be eaten[
The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers[
Plants have an extensive root system and can be planted to stabilize banks[
Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse. Germination is usually good and fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Pinch out the shoot tips of the young plants in order to encourage bushy growth[
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel if possible, mid summer in individual pots in a frame. Good percentage[
Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, autumn to late winter in a cold frame. High percentage[
Division of suckers in late winter. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.