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LYCIUM SHAWII/ Desert thorn

Scientific Name: Lycium shawii

Local Name: Qassad, Awsaj

Arabic Name: Ghasad, Awsaj

Common Name: Desert thorn


General Information

A spiny branched shrub 100-180 cm tall, shoots white-tomentose. Spines tomentose towards the base. Leaves 4-25 (-30) x 2.5-6 mm, elliptic-oblong to narrow oblong, cuneate, obtuse or acute, pilose to tomentose. Flowers axillary solitary or paired, white or purple-suffused. Pedicel 3-4 mm long, pilose. Calyx narrow tubular, 2.5 x 1.5 mm, pilose; lobes 0.5-1 mm long, acute, pubescent. Corolla tube 10-12 mm long; lobes 2.0 mm long, acute, minutely pubescent. Filaments glabrous at the base, subexserted. Berry 4 mm broad, orange-red. Seeds c. 1.5 mm broad, reniform. brown.



Stems slightly angular, robust; long branches slightly curving, sometimes pendulous; spines 5–10(15) mm long, leafless except when occurring on very old stems; bark greyish-white to dark ash-grey, seldom dark brown to purplish-brown; brachyblasts greyish-white.

Seeds 2 × 1.5 mm, ovate in outline.

Erect, spreading, sometimes scandent, intricately branched, very spiny shrub 1–2.5(3) m high, infrequently a small tree up to 4.5 m, glabrous.

Fruit red, 3–5 mm in diameter, globose to slightly obovoid, apparently edible.

Flowers hermaphrodite, 5-merous, pendulous; pedicels (1)6–8 mm long.

Leaves fascicled in clusters of 2–6, with a waxy excrescence around their insertion; petiole 2–5 mm long; lamina bright green and glossy adaxially, slightly paler abaxially, herbaceous to semi-succulent, (7)20– 35(54) × (4)8–10(15) mm, obovate to elliptic or lanceolate, apex acute to rounded, glabrous or with microscopic, short glandular hairs.

Calyx 3–5 mm long, glabrous; tube narrowly tubular, 1.5–2 mm wide; lobes equal, 0.4–0.6 mm long, triangular, slightly acute, erect.

Disk inconspicuous, pale brownish-yellow.
Ovary 1.5–2 × 1.5 mm, globose; style 10–12 mm long and just shorter than the longest stamen.

Corolla creamy-white to pale mauve with purple venation, (10)12–16 mm long, glabrous outside; tube narrowly tubular, sometimes slightly curved, glabrous to sparsely pilose on the inside just below filament insertions; limb 7–11 mm across, creamy-white to pale mauve; lobes (1.5)3–4 mm long, semi- ovate-oblong, spreading, sparsely ciliate.

Stamens unequal, attached above the middle of the corolla tube, 3 included and 2 slightly exserted; filaments (3)4–7(9) mm long, glabrous.

Shrub, up to 2 m high. Leaves and young branches glabrous. Leaves linear-lanceolate to ovate- spathulate, 1.5-4.0 times as long as broad. Peduncles 4 mm long not exserted, filaments glabrous. Flowers white or mauve.






Kingdom: Plantae

Phylum: Tracheophyta

Class: Magnoliopsida

Order: Solanales

Family: Solanaceae

Genus: Lycium L.

Species: Lycium shawii Roem. & Schult


Lycium shawii var. leptophyllum (Dunal) Täckh. & Boulos ex A.Baytop


Habitat and Distribution:

Most of the Lycium species are concentrated in South America, out of about 100 only 4 of them are recorded in Arabia. Only L. shawii is found in UAE alluvial plains, costal areas in RAK, inland in Ajman, mountains, wadis and farms or roadsides.

Parts Used:

Aerial parts and fruits


Traditional and Medicinal Use:

A decoction of a stem is laxative and diuretic. Juices of leaves and fruit is believed to cure jaundice, freckles and skin problems as well as ulcers of mouth, anus, and infected ear. Fruit is edible and believed to be laxative, diuretic, antispasmodic and a general tonic also used to improve vision.



It adapted to the desert climate by its sharp thorns as a protection from being grazed or browsed by some of the desert animals.