Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Lycium torreyi


SPECIES: Lycium torreyi
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Matthews, Robin F. 1994. Lycium torreyi. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : LYCTOR SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : LYTO COMMON NAMES : Torrey wolfberry desert thorn boxthorn TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of Torrey wolfberry is Lycium torreyi Gray. (Solanaceae) [9,12,18,19,26,27]. There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Lycium torreyi
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Torrey wolfberry is distributed from Utah and Nevada to southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas. Its range also extends south into Mexico [9,12,18,19,26,27]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES29 Sagebrush FRES30 Desert shrub FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe STATES : AZ CA NV NM TX UT MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K027 Mesquite bosque K038 Great Basin sagebrush K039 Blackbrush K040 Saltbush - greasewood K041 Creosotebush K042 Creosotebush - bursage K043 Paloverde - cactus shrub K044 Creosotebush - tarbush K058 Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna SAF COVER TYPES : 68 Mesquite 242 Mesquite SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Torrey wolfberry is characteristic of mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)-fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens) vegetation in the Chihuahuan Desert on deep, fine alluvium near shallow arroyos and on alluvial fans and bajadas. Other associated species include creosotebush (Larrea tridentata), tarbush (Flourensia cernua), prickly pear and cholla (Opuntia spp.), and agave (Agave scabra). Torrey wolfberry is also found in alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides) grasslands in deep, calcareous alluvial deposits near arroyos and in intermontane habitats along the margins of mesquite communities [8].


SPECIES: Lycium torreyi
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Specific information regarding the use of Torrey wolfberry by livestock or wildlife is not available in the literature. Wolfberry (Lycium spp.) foliage is sometimes browsed by livestock [12,19]. Torrey wolfberry fruits are probably consumed by birds and rodents, as are those of other wolfberry species [13,15]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : Dense thickets of Torrey wolfberry presumably provide cover for birds and small mammals. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Specific information regarding the use of Torrey wolfberry for rehabilitating disturbed sites is not available in the literature. Wolfberry species, however, have been used to rehabilitate abandoned farmland in Sonoran Desert lowlands and on disturbed sites near Red Rock, Arizona. The sites were restored by establishing berms on the contour and then seeding with wolfberry and other desert shrubs [11]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Historically, Native Americans have eaten wolfberry berries and have used the plant for a wide variety of medicinal purposes [12,19,26]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Lycium torreyi
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Torrey wolfberry is a spiny to spineless shrub up to 10 feet (3 m) tall with many spreading branches. The axillary flowers are funnel-shaped and are borne in small fascicles. The fruit is a red, juicy berry with 8 to 30 seeds [9,18,26,27]. Torrey wolfberry sheds its leaves and becomes dormant during drought but quickly refoliates when conditions become more favorable [12]. Torrey wolfberry often forms dense thickets [19]. The roots of wolfberry species are tough and fibrous. Root systems are relatively extensive in comparison with the aerial portions, often extending 25 to 30 feet (7.5-9.0 m) from the plant [25]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Although no specific information is available on Torrey wolfberry reproduction, it probably regenerates from cuttings, root suckering, and layering, as do other wolfberry species. Like other wolfberries, Torrey wolfberry may sprout from the base when damaged [26]. Torrey wolfberry seeds are probably dispersed by birds and other animals, as are seeds of other wolfberries [17]. Good seed crops are produced by wolfberry species almost every year. After extraction, seeds should be dried and stored in sealed containers at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 deg C), or stratified in moist sand. Stratified seeds of some wolfberry species maintain good viability for 6 months. Dormancy in wolfberry seeds is variable. Some wolfberry seeds germinate well without pretreatment, while germination of others is improved by stratification. Seeds can be sown in the fall as soon as the fruits ripen or stratified seed can be sown in the spring and covered lightly with about 0.25 inch (0.64 cm) of soil. Two-year-old seedlings may be outplanted [22]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Torrey wolfberry is found in washes and arroyos, along streams and rivers, and on flats [9,18,19,26]. It commonly grows in silty, sandy, or alluvial soils [19], and often occupies saline or alkaline sites [19,26]. Torrey wolfberry is generally found below 3,000 feet (900 m) elevation in Arizona and Texas [12,26], below 2,000 feet (600 m) elevation in California [9,18], and at elevations of 2,500 to 3,800 feet (760-1,160 m) in Utah [27]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : NO-ENTRY SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Torrey wolfberry usually flowers from March or April to June [12,18,25,26]. Flowers may also be produced after fall rains [19]. Fruits are available from June to September [25,26].


SPECIES: Lycium torreyi
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Many perennial desert shrubs are not well adapted to fire [4], but some may exhibit fire adaptive traits [16]. Generally, these traits are only weakly developed [21]. Because most wolfberries sprout from the root crown after damage, and Torrey wolfberry probably sprouts after fire [16,26]. However, it may take many years for desert shrubs to regain their former densities on burned sites [21]. The sprouting ability of pale wolfberry is most likely dependent on fire severity. Dense clumps of brush containing Torrey wolfberry may be somewhat impervious to fire, as are clumps containing Berlandier wolfberry (L. berlandieri) [2]. Wolfberry species seedling establishment was noted after a fire at a Sonoran Desert site. The seeds may have survived the fire in the soil or on burned plants, or may have been dispersed from adjacent unburned areas [21]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Lycium torreyi
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Severe fires may kill Torrey wolfberry, but low- to moderate-severity fires probably only consume its aerial portions. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Specific information on the response of Torrey wolfberry to fire is not available in the literature. In general, wolfberry species sprouted rapidly after controlled June fires in Sonoran Desert scrub vegetation near Phoenix, Arizona. The well developed wolfberry root systems escaped damage from the fire, allowing them to capitalize on increased water and nitrogen availablity in the postfire environment. Wolfberries had established their former density and cover by 35 months after the fire. Wolfberry plants had similiar responses in both open shrub and tree microhabitats [16]. Wolfberry species sprouted and seedlings established within 3 years following a June wildfire in a Sonoran Desert scrub community near Phoenix, Arizona. No information was given on fire severity or intensity [21]. Berlandier wolfberry was reduced by prescribed fires in southern Texas [2,3,7], but the effects were short-lived and canopy diameter had recovered to prefire levels by the end of the first growing season following the fire [7]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fires are not prevalent in many desert communities due to wide spacing between shrubs and sparse ground cover [4,10]. Unusually heavy winter rains, however, may produce a cover of annual species dense enough to carry a fire when cured [10]. Many perennial desert shrubs are poorly adapted to fire [4]. Wolfberries in particular may be susceptible to repeated burning [16]. Postfire colonization by desert shrubs is very slow initially and may take hundreds of years [4,21]. Rogers and Steele [21] suggested a conservative approach when using fire to manage desert regions.


SPECIES: Lycium torreyi
REFERENCES : 1. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 2. Box, Thadis W.; Powell, Jeff; Drawe, D. Lynn. 1967. Influence of fire on south Texas chaparral communities. Ecology. 48(6): 955-961. [499] 3. Box, Thadis W.; White, Richard S. 1969. Fall and winter burning of south Texas brush ranges. Journal of Range Management. 22(6): 373-376. [11438] 4. Brown, David E.; Minnich, Richard A. 1986. Fire and changes in creosote bush scrub of the western Sonoran Desert, California. American Midland Naturalist. 116(2): 411-422. [537] 5. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 6. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 7. Hamilton, Wayne T. 1980. Suppressing undesirable plants in buffelgrass range with prescribed fire. In: White, Larry D., ed. Prescribed range burning in the Rio Grande Plains of Texas: Proceedings of a symposium; 1979 November 7; Carrizo Springs, TX. College Station, TX: The Texas A&M University System, Texas Agricultural Extension Service: 12-21. [11459] 8. Henrickson, James; Johnston, Marshall C. 1986. Vegetation and community types of the Chihuahuan Desert. In: Barlow, J. C.; [and others], eds. Chihuahuan Desert--U.S. and Mexico, II. Alpine, TX: Sul Ross State University: 20-39. [12979] 9. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992] 10. Humphrey, Robert R. 1974. Fire in the deserts and desert grassland of North America. In: Kozlowski, T. T.; Ahlgren, C. E., eds. Fire and ecosystems. New York: Academic Press: 365-400. [14064] 11. Jackson, Laura L.; McAuliffe, Joseph R.; Roundy, Bruce A. 1991. Desert restoration. Restoration & Management Notes. 9(2): 71-79. [22746] 12. Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock, Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085 p. [6563] 13. Kelly, George W. 1970. A guide to the woody plants of Colorado. Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Co. 180 p. [6379] 14. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 15. Lamb, S. H. 1971. Woody plants of New Mexico and their value to wildlife. Bull. 14. Albuquerque, NM: New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. 80 p. [9818] 16. Loftin, Samuel Robert. 1987. Postfire dynamics of a Sonoran Desert ecosystem. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University. 97 p. Thesis. [12296] 17. Lonard, Robert I.; Judd, Frank W. 1993. Phytogeography of the woody flora of the lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Texas Journal of Science. 45(2): 133-147. [22040] 18. Munz, Philip A. 1974. A flora of southern California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1086 p. [4924] 19. Powell, A. Michael. 1988. Trees & shrubs of Trans-Pecos Texas including Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks. Big Bend National Park, TX: Big Bend Natural History Association. 536 p. [6130] 20. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 21. Rogers, Garry F.; Steele, Jeff. 1980. Sonoran Desert fire ecology. In: Stokes, Marvin A.; Dieterich, John H., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the fire history workshop; 1980 October 20-24; Tucson, AZ. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-81. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 15-19. [16036] 22. Rudolf, Paul O. 1974. Lycium L. wolfberry. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., ed. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agriculture Handbook No. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 522-524. [7699] 23. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 24. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 25. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240] 26. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707] 27. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]

FEIS Home Page