The Christmas berry or Matrimony vine, Lycium carolinianum, is a native shrub found growing on coastal uplands, shell beaches, shell mounds, in salt and brackish marshes and mangrove swamps. It is in the Solanaceae or nightshade family.
It is a tardily deciduous shrub that rarely exceeds six feet in height. It is sparingly branched with many of the curving branches ending in a sharp thorn. The leaves are dull gray-green, thick, succulent, 1/2 inch long, narrowly ovate, and smooth with entire margins.
The flowers are pale lavender in color and are born in the leaf axils. The corolla of the small flower may be lavender to nearly white with the throat being streaked with purple. The blooms appear in March through December.
The fruit ripens in late autumn or early winter. The berry is a bright, lustrous red when ripe and elliptic to oval in shape. Birds are very fond of the fruit.
Christmas berry grows in full sun, with average moisture, and an average pH. Many native plant nurseries in our area carry Christmas berry.
by Sharon LaPlante
Godfrey, R.K., and J.W. Wooten. Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Northern Florida and Adjacent Georgia and Alabama. University of Georgia Press: Athens, GA 1988
Scurlock, J. Paul. Native Trees and Shrubs of the Florida Keys. Laurel & Herbert, Inc.: Sugarloaf Shores, FL. 1996
Taylor, Walter Kingsley. The Guide to Florida Wildflowers. Taylor Publishing: Dallas, TX 1992
Taylor, Walter Kingsley. Florida Wildflowers in Their Natural Communities. University Press: Gainesville, FL. 1998
Tobe, Ph.D., John D. et al. Florida Wetland Plants: An Identification Manual. UF/IFAS Publications: Gainesville, FL. 1998
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