PLANT: Shrub, stout, intricately branched, 1-3 m tall, sparingly armed or unarmed, with densely glandular-puberulent foliage, rarely almost glabrous; bark tan to dark gray or brown. LEAVES: spatulate, oblanceolate or obovate, 8-35 mm long, 2-15 mm wide, acute to rounded at apex, in fascicles of 3-6, single in young branches. FLOWERS: pedicels 4-25 mm long, glandular-puberulent (Fig. 2B); calyx tubular (2-)4-8(-10) mm long, 5-lobed, the lobes triangular, mostly less than 1 mm long, rarely 2 mm; corolla tubular to funnelform, deep lavender or violet to white with purple veins, 8-15(-20) mm long, the lobes orbicular to broadly obovate, glabrous to puberulous on adaxial surface, 1/4 to 2/5 the length of the tube, spreading, the margins smooth to densely ciliate; stamens unequal, usually included within the tube or slightly protruding from it; filament-adnation variable, from about middle of corolla-tube to about 1/3 from the base, the filaments glabrous to densely pilose at base of the free portion, the adjacent corolla-tube glabrous or very sparsely pubescent; style about equaling the corolla-tube or slightly exceeding it, sometimes much shorter than the stamens. FRUITS: oblong-ovoid, 5-9 mm long, red, 40-60-seeded. N = 48, 60. NOTES: Lower Sonoran Desert in AZ, in washes and in flats, often in saline soils: all cos. except Coconino, Navajo and Santa Cruz (Fig. 1E); 100-1300 m (300-4300 ft); mainly Jan-Apr, occasionally at other times; CA; Baja C., Baja C. Sur, Son., Mex. REFERENCES: Windham, M.D. And G. Yatskievych. 2009. Vascular Plants of Arizona: Isoëtaceae. CANOTIA 5 (1): 27-29, 2009.
Wiggins 1964, Benson and Darrow 1981, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Chiang 1981, Chiang and Landrum 2009, Nee 2016
Common Name: Fremont's desert-thorn Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Shrub General: Stout, compact, intricately branched shrub 1-3 m tall; branches unarmed or sparingly armed, the spines 10-15 mm long; bark tan to dark gray or brown; foliage densely glandular-puberulent or occasionally almost glabrous. Leaves: In fascicles of 3-6 leaves, or solitary on young branches; fascicles alternate along the stem; bades spatulate, 8-35 mm long by 2-15 mm wide, acute to rounded at apex. Flowers: On densely glandular-puberulent pedicels, 4-25 mm long, from leaf fascicles; calyx tubular, 2-3 mm in diameter and 4-8 mm long at anthesis, topped with 5 triangular lobes 1 mm long; corolla tubular to funnel-shaped, purple or white with purple veins, the tube 8-15 mm long and 3 mm wide at the apex, hairless on the outside, and topped with 5 rounded lobes, these spreading, 2-6 mm long, with sparsely ciliolate or glabrous edges; stamens unequal in length, the filaments fused to the lowest two-fifths of corolla tube, glabrous or sparingly pilose just above the fused portion. Fruits: Berries ovoid, 5-9 mm long, bright red to black, 40-60-seeded. Ecology: Found in washes and flats, often in saline soils, below 4,500 ft (1372 m); flowers most of year, especially January-March. Distribution: AZ, se CA, nw MEX Notes: Common and often in colonies, an abundant fruit producer in the desert. Look for it especially in low, saline habitats such as playas and wash bottoms. The plant has few thorns; leaves are glandular-hairy; the older, interior bark is dark, while the new growth is grayish to white; the flowers are usually erect and dark purple and the fruit matures to red. Similar to L. exsertum in its glandular-pubescent herbage, but that species has pendulous flowers; filaments which are quite hairy above the attachment point with the corolla; and longer exserted stamens. To tell it apart from L. torreyi, look at the corolla margins; L. torryei-s are densely ciliate with branched hairs which are visible to the naked eye, while this species has sparsely ciliate or hairless corolla margins. Ethnobotany: Berries eaten fresh; dried and eaten like raisins; and mashed to make into a beverage. Etymology: Lycium is from Greek name Lykion, used to describe a thorny tree or shrub; fremontii is named for John C. Fremont (1813-1890), an American explorer. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley 2010, AHazelton 2016