Lycium ferocissimum


Family: Solanaceae

Origin: South Africa

Boxthorn tree with slightly curled leaves.
Boxthorn is an evergreen densely branched shrub/ small tree with sharp thorns.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area pest — Site-led
  • Aotea — Eradication
  • Parkland with Significant Ecological Areas — Site-led (on-park only)
  • Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area priority status
  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Densely branched, spiny, evergreen shrub < 6 m tall. Leaves are < 43 x 12 mm. Flowers are cream/purple. Fruit is fleshy and red.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell boxthorn within the Auckland region.
  • You must not plant boxthorn within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any boxthorn on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Auckland Council will control boxthorn 1) at priority sites within the Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area to protect seabirds and other species, and 2) at all sites within the Aotea/Great Barrier Island group where it is known to occur.

If you see boxthorn anywhere on Aotea/Great Barrier Island group, please report it to Auckland Council at


Coastal sites, sand dunes, gravel, cliffs, shrubland, riparian margins, wasteland, roadsides, pasture.


Seeds dispersed by birds, mammals and reptiles.

Impact on environment

Inhibits native coastal plant regeneration, ensnares seabirds and impedes access to nesting sites. Spines can become imbedded in bone or soft tissue, causing infection and pseudo-tumours.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with double strength glyphosate gel or cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 200ml glyphosate green per 1L of water.

Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Safety notes

Plant has thorns.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Boxthorn leaves gather in clusters on branches.
The leaves are narrow, oblong and clustered along the stems.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Close up of boxthorn flower.
It has cream / purple flowers followed by red berries.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow