Herbs & Plants

Lycium pallidum

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Botanical Name ; Lycium pallidum
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Lycium
Species: L. pallidum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Common Names:Pale Desert-thorn, Pale Wolfberry, Pale Lycium, Rabbit Thorn

Habitat :  Lycium pallidum is native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. In Mexico it can be found in Sonora, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosi. In the United States it occurs from California to Texas and as far north as Utah and Colorado.Grows in  Desert, Upland, Riparian. This plant grows in sunny locations in riparian areas, higher elevation deserts, chaparral, grasslands, and juniper woodlands.

Lycium pallidum is Perennial, Deciduous flowering plant.This shrub grows 1 to 3 meters tall. It is a dense tangle of spiny spreading or erect branches. It can form bushy thickets. The leaves are pale, giving the plant its name. The flowers are solitary or borne in pairs. They are funnel-shaped and “creamy-yellow to yellowish-green” or “greenish cream, sometimes tinged with purple”. They are fragrant and pollinated by insects. The fruit is a juicy, oval-shaped, shiny red berry containing up to 50 seeds. The plant reproduces by seed and it can also spread via cuttings, and by suckering and layering.

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This plant grows in many types of desert habitat. It occurs in pinyon-juniper woodland, sagebrush, shrubsteppe, savanna, and other ecosystems. It can grow in high-salinity soils. It is characteristic of the flora of the Mojave Desert, and it also occurs in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts. In the Mojave Desert it grows alongside plants such as winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), range ratany (Krameria parvifolia), spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa), Shockley goldenhead (Acamptopappus shockleyi), Fremont dalea (Dalea fremontii), spiny menodora (Menodora spinescens), and species of ephedra, prickly pear, and yucca. In Arizona it grows in riparian habitat with sycamore (Platanus wrightii), willows (Salix spp.), Arizona walnut (Juglans major), Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana), Arizona white oak (Quercus arizonica), and velvet ash (Fraxinus velutina). This plant is common around Anasazi ruins; they may have simply collected it and dropped the seeds, but it is possible they cultivated it.

Edible Uses: The ripe red berries are edible raw, cooked, or dried and were a food source for Native Americans.Many types of animals consume the fruits. Phainopepla especially favor it. Woodrats like the foliage.

Medicinal Uses;
Native Americans utilized the plant for a number of medicinal and other purposes. The Navajo used it for toothache. They considered it a sacred plant and sacrificed it to the gods. Several groups used the fruit for food by eating it fresh, cooked, or dried, eating it mixed with clay, boiling it into a syrup, and making it into beverages

Wolfberry is used when there is excessive eye and nose discharge in allergic situations.  In addition, when lower respiratory tract tissues are congested and there are accompanying feelings of bronchial tightness Wolfberry can prove opening to this area.  Wolfberry’s moderately anti-cholinergic activity shifts constrictive emphasis away from these affected respiratory tissues.  This effect is most useful when this area is deemed over active, from an array of causes, but mostly because of an allergic-immune mediated response of some sort; Wolfberry shrinks tissues and allays hyper-secretion.

Wolfberry’s effect is also noticeable in gut and intestinal centered distresses.  Nausea, intestinal spasms and general over-excitability of these areas respond well to Wolfberry.  The plant acts well to quell chills, sweating and nausea (much like the drunken juice of 1 or 2 raw potatoes) from over-exposure to chemical herbicides, fertilizers and other conventional agricultural productions. Wolfberry is a mild drug plant, meaning it suppresses symptoms and does not have much underlying value beyond temporally diminishing distresses, albeit in a limited way.  In chronic issues, Wolfberry works well in formula with other more supportive herbs.  It thereby can diminish surfaces distresses while deeper issues, possibly exaggerated immune responses or stress patterns can be addressed.

Topically the freshly poulticed plant or liniment can be applied to acute stings, swellings, contusions and other injuries where the skin is not broken.  In this respect, Wolfberry acts like other Nightshade family plants applied externally.  It moderately reduces pain and inflammation similarly to, although weaker than Datura or Tobacco.  The Navajo use the ground root for toothache.

The ground up root has been placed in a tooth cavity to bring relief from toothache. The bark and the dried berries have been used as a ‘life medicine’. The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavonoids 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. A feeble, useful and safe anticholinergic for hay fever, colds and diarrhea

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Lycium pallidum – Pale Desert-thorn

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