Priority Weeds: African boxthorn


By Tara Pitman
Regional Weeds Coordinator

P: 02 6051 2250 | M: 0448 390 288 | E:

Once seen as a beautiful hedge plant, African Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum) was brought to Australia from South Africa in the mid-1800s. Since then, it has spread from around old homesteads and urban areas and is now common across well-drained soils of the western slopes and plains.

Considered a weed of national significance, African boxthorn is a hazard to both humans and stock. It is poisonous to humans and its large thorns can injure livestock and prevent them from accessing shade. It also provides shelter and food for pest animals such as foxes, rabbits and starlings and is a host for pest insects including fruit fly, tomato fly and house fly.

How can I tell if it’s on my property?

African Boxthorn is a woody, thorny shrub that can grow up to 5 m high and 3 m wide. Young plants grow quickly. Plants sometimes drop their leaves and appear dead during drought and winter.

What can you do?

If you see it, report it!

Call your local council weed officer or contact NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244, or send an email (including a photo if you have one) to

Successful weed control relies on follow up after the initial efforts. This means looking for and killing regrowth or new seedlings. Using a combination of control methods is usually more successful in keeping African boxthorn under control.

For more information - NSW WeedWise

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