African Boxthorn


African boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum) is a woody shrub with large thorns that can grow up to 5m tall. Boxthorn becomes dormant over the hotter months appearing dry and dull. However, after high rainfall the plant will start actively growing again and begin producing red berries. Boxthorn plants reproduce by seed, which is easily dispersed by animals, and can also regrow from disturbed root systems.

Boxthorn plants grow densely together, particularly near watercourses. They outcompete native plant species and can prevent animals, including livestock, accessing water. Feral animals such as rabbits, foxes, and rats use the thickets as shelter.

African Boxthorn

Managing Boxthorn

African boxthorn is classed as a Weed of National Significance however is not a Declared Pest on the Western Australian Organism List under the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act 2007 (WA). In the City of Greater Geraldton, it is listed in the Pest Plant Local Law (2011) which requires landholders to control boxthorn on their own property. More information can be found in the City’s Pest and Weed Management Framework. 

The City’s Environmental team use contractors to control boxthorn in high priority natural areas. Contractors treat boxthorn in the wetter months as this is when the boxthorn is actively growing.

To assist with follow up treatment of the smaller plants and monitoring, the City holds annual Boxthorn Blitz workshops for the community. Workshops are held in the winter months and participants are educated on how to treat small boxthorn plants such as on their own properties. Email to put your name on the register to receive workshop updates.

Areas where boxthorn has been treated in the natural areas is revegetated using local provenance plants grown by volunteers at the Geraldton Community Nursery.

More information on how to treat/remove boxthorn can be found here

See an information booklet here for identification and treatment.


Boxthorn Blitz ag.

History of African Boxthorn

African Boxthorn, Lycium ferocissimum, arrived in Geraldton in 1895 when Mr Henry Sewell bought seeds from a South Australian seed merchant. 

Original Boxthorn Receipt

Photo: Original receipt for the first African Boxthorn seeds arriving in Geraldton in 1895.