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Lycium europaeum - L.

Common Name European tea-tree, Box thorn,
Family Solanaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards Some caution should be exercised with this species, particularly with regard to its edible leaves, since it belongs to a family that often contains toxins. However, use of the leaves is well documented and fairly widespread in some areas.
Habitats In Israel it grows in Mediterranean maquis, batha communities, and loessial wadis in the steppes areas.
Range S.W. Europe to the Mediterranean.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Lycium europaeum European tea-tree, Box thorn,

Lycium europaeum European tea-tree, Box thorn,


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Lycium europaeum is a deciduous Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft 1in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9. It is in flower from June to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.


L. intricatum. Boiss.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit;  Leaves.
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked[177]. The fruit is a berry about 8mm in diameter[200]. Only the fully ripe fruits should be eaten[K]. Young shoots - cooked[177].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


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[214].

Other Uses

Soil stabilization.

Plants have an extensive root system and can be planted to stabilize banks[200].

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, it does not require a rich soil, flowering and fruiting better in a well-drained soil of moderate quality[1, 11, 200]. Succeeds in impoverished soils[200]. Requires a sunny position[200]. Tolerates maritime exposure[200]. This species is not very hardy in Britain, it tolerates temperatures down to about -5°c and succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of the country[200]. There is much confusion between this species and the closely related L. barbarum and L. chinense. Most, if not all, of the plants being grown as L. europaeum in Britain are in fact L.barbarum[11, 50, 200]. Many botanists unite the three species under the name L. barbarum, though they are distinct[200].


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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[78]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel if possible, July/August in individual pots in a frame. Good percentage[78]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, autumn to late winter in a cold frame. High percentage[78, 200]. Division of suckers in late winter. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. Layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Ad-gorad, Aushaz, Ekabekebeke, Engokia, Fub, Fursaa, Fursh, Kihomolwa, Kokonida, Lgherdeq, Lokei, Ol-okii, Pkata,

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Albania, East Africa, Ethiopia, Europe, France, Greece, India, Italy, Kenya, Mediterranean, Morocco, North Africa, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sicily, Somalia, Spain, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Yugoslavia,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Berberis lycium 33
Lycium afrum 12
Lycium andersoniiWolfberry, Water jacket12
Lycium arabicum 12
Lycium australe 12
Lycium barbarumGoji, Box Thorn, Matrimony vine43
Lycium berlandieriBerlandier's wolfberry12
Lycium carolinianumChristmas Berry, Carolina desert-thorn32
Lycium chinenseChinese Boxthorn, Chinese desert-thorn43
Lycium fremontiiDesert Thorn, Fremont's desert-thorn12
Lycium pallidumPale Wolfberry, Pale desert-thorn, Rabbit thorn32
Lycium ruthenicum 32
Lycium schweinfurthii 22
Lycium torreyiSquawthorn, Torrey wolfberry22


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Readers comment

Andrew Lee   Fri Sep 15 2006

The plant is cited by Gesenius (Hebrew OT Dictionary) as being the Hebrew 'atad (aleph tech daleth), subject of the story "King of the Trees" in Judges 9,7-15 in the Old Testament. Other Biblical references probable, translated in the King James Version as "bramble".

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