Arabian Boxthorn (Lycium shawii), AWSAJ in Arabic

Before, I wrote as ‘Please help me in the identification of this climber shrub’ but I knew the answer. Thanks to my friend Saharan Shephard who replied to my query and provided the name with some details.

The shrub has weak stems (mostly many) and climbs on other trees. I found it in Alain Abu Dhabi. It is in the flowering stage now. It has small simple leaves, thorny stalks, and red cherries (though I found one). According to Wikipedia, it is found throughout the Arabian Peninsula.

Arabian boxthorn is a spreading, very spiny shrub growing 1 – 3 meters tall, exceptionally becoming a small tree up to 4.5 meters tall. The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as food and medicine. It is also grown as a hedge.

Here the Lycium flora is climbed on an Acacia tortillas tree. I found only one fruit, yellow berry. Inside the fruit is a few small seed-like tomatoes.
Beautiful flowers with olive-like leaves
The stalks are blackish in color

Some more details about the flora Lycium shawii

Lycium shawii is highly adapted to desert ecosystems. The thin-leaved, rigid bush grows up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) high, with a lot of branches and alternating spines that vary in size, and grow along the branches and on their tips. The leaves narrow towards their base. It produces small whitish-pink or purple flowers from Sep to Apr. The fruit is small red pea-sized (seedy berries), edible, and used as herbal medicine as well. The flora like to be the neighbor of Acacia tortillas and Prosopis cineraria to climb and thrive better.

Lycium shawii climbed on an Acacia tortillas tree
Lycium shawii climbed on an Acacia tortillas tree
The shrub has a weaker stem, can’t erect by itself
The thorny stalk of the Lycium shawii

Is it native or exotic?

Yes; It is native to the desert ecosystem of the Arabian Peninsula and some parts of Africa.

It can be used as hedging, fencing, and live wall, my exceptional idea of replacing exotic plants with native flora.

4 thoughts on “Arabian Boxthorn (Lycium shawii), AWSAJ in Arabic”

  1. Good morning professor,
    I have been searching high and low and can only suggest Ausaj (Lycium shawii). Whether you did know or not, I have spent a happy hour reading on plants and animals of the region. I have in effect had a Sunday moring tutorial.
    On a personal note, there are around 2-300 new plants which arrive planet wide each year and localised changes in established plants/bushes within their DNA/RNA structure. Stay safe.

    1. Thanks once again. I’m really thankful for the detailed response with the answer. It is really astonishing that from 2 to 300 plant species are documented each year as a new flora if I have understood correctly. Looking forward to hearing from you again soon.
      Best regards

  2. Excellent images and information, thank you! I do have one question though: Is this particular species of boxthorn (Arabian Boxthorn, Lycium Shawii) native to, or found in, the desert areas of northwest Saudi Arabia?

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