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SPECIES:  Lycium andersonii
Water jacket in Inyo County, CA. Image ©2010 Jean Pawek.



SPECIES: Lycium andersonii
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Tesky, Julie L. 1992. Lycium andersonii. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: On 2 August 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: Anderson wolfberry to: water jacket. Images were also added. ABBREVIATION: LYCAND SYNONYMS: Lycium andersonii forma deserticola C.L. Hitchcock [12,16] NRCS PLANT CODE: LYAN COMMON NAMES: water jacket Anderson desert thorn Anderson lycium Anderson's thornbush Anderson wolfberry TAXONOMY: The scientific name of water jacket is Lycium andersonii Gray [12,16,30]. Recognized varieties are as follows: Lycium andersonii var. andersonii A. Gray, Lycium andersonii var. deserticola C.L. Hitchcock (C.L. Hitchcock) ex Munz, Lycium andersonii var. wrightii A. Gray [12,16]. LIFE FORM: Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Lycium andersonii
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Water jacket grows in southern and eastern Nevada, southeastern California, the southern half of Arizona and into northern Arizona, along the Colorado River, and northward into Utah on the Colorado Plateau [12,16,30] .  This species also occurs in New Mexico and northwestern Mexico [12].  
Distribution of water jacket in the United States. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, August 2] [30].

   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES30  Desert shrub
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper


    3  Southern Pacific Border
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    7  Lower Basin and Range
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau

   KO23  Juniper - pinyon woodland
   KO35  Coastal sagebrush
   KO38  Great Basin sagebrush
   K041  Creosotebush
   K043  Paloverde - cactus shrub

    68  Mesquite
   239  Pinyon - juniper
   242  Mesquite


Water jacket occurs in some desert shrub and woodland community
types but seldom attains dominance.  Water jacket codominates
the Larrea-Lycium andersonii-Grayia association tha occurs 
in the Mojave Desert of Nevada.

The publication listing water jacket as an indicator or dominant
species is as follows:

Area                    Classification       Authority
NV, Mojave Desert       Veg. (pas)           Beatley 1969


SPECIES: Lycium andersonii
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Water jacket is sometimes used as forage by livestock and feral burros [9,12].  In the lower Colorado River Valley, Arizona, this shrub can provide an important source of phosphorous and B-carotene for feral burros in late summer and fall when other more preferred species were unavailable [9]. The red berries are eaten by some birds and mammals [8,16].  Berries of this plant constituted 2 percent of the diet of chukar partridges living on the eastern desert ranges of California.  In some areas of southern Nevada, the fleshy leaves and juicy berries provide part of the succulence permitting Gambel quail to occupy desert areas devoid of drinking water.  Ord kangaroo rats are also known to eat these berries [8].  Black-chinned hummingbirds are attracted to water jacket's pollen [30]. PALATABILITY: Palatability of water jacket browse is presumably fair to low. This species is used as forage only when more desirable species are unavailable [8,9].  The fruit, however, appears to be moderately palatable. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Nutrient values were examined in detail in a Great Basin study at Mercury Valley, Nye County, Nevada [23].  Selected values are as follows:                   Percent dry weight         N     P     Na     K     Ca     Mg     Si shoot   -    .10    .010   2.12  2.65   .24    .04   leaf    3.26 .12    .013   5.58  11.64  1.44   .05                    ppm dry weight (micrograms)         Zn     Cu     Fe     Mn     B     Sr shoot    9      3     90      5     12    77 leaf    41      4     162    33     65    648 In the lower Colorado River Valley, Arizona, researchers found that the gross energy for water jacket was lowest in January and February, but stayed between 4.0 and 5.0 kcal/g all year.  Crude protein was highest in the spring at approximately 0.075 percent and decreased through summer, fall, and early winter to approximately 0.05 percent [9].  Phosphorus levels generally decreased in the summer and fall and were highest in the spring.  B-carotene levels were greatest in the late winter when growth was active [9]. COVER VALUE: In desert washes water jacket grows in dense thorny thickets which provide good cover for quail and other small wildlife [7,8].  In southern Arizona, water jacket provides resting and feeding cover for masked bobwhite quail [7].  Water jacket provides midday shade and is open around the base to allow easy escape from predators [7]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: No specific information is available on water jacket's value for rehabilitating disturbed sites.  Lycium spp., however, have been used to rehabilitate abandoned desert farmlands in the Sonoran desert lowlands, disturbed sites in Red Rock, Arizona, and disturbed lands in the Mojave Desert [11,22].  In the Sonoran Desert lowlands and in Red Rock, Arizona, sites were restored by establishing berms on the contour, and then seeding with wolfberry (Lycium spp.) and other desert shrubs [11]. Desert shrub transplants should be protected from grazing animals to ensure establishment and survival [22].  In addition, summer annuals (Salsola spp.) must be removed from around the transplanted shrubs to reduce competition for water, and some of the nutrient resource must be returned to the soil [22]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: Native Americans used the fleshy berries of water jacket either fresh or boiled and then dried them for later use [17].  This shrub is also used as an ornamental valued chiefly for its showy red berries [24]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Lycium andersonii
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Water jacket is a native desert shrub [28].  It is spiny, rounded, and much branched, obtaining a height of 1 to 9 feet (0.30-2.7 m) [12,16,17,18,25,30,33].  Twigs are light barked [25]; spines are numerous and slender, 0.20 to 0.80 inch (5-20 mm) long [25,30,33]; leaves are flattened, but thick and fleshy, 0.09 to 0.66 inch (3-17 mm) long [16,17,30,33].  This species is drought deciduous, meaning it loses foliage in response to low moisture availability [31].
Water jacket, in San Bernardino, CA, showing fruit, leaves, and spines. Image ©Neal Kramer.
Water jacket roots are tough and fibrous [29].  The root system
is relatively extensive in comparison with aerial portions [29,31],
often extending 25 to 30 feet (7.6-9.1 m) from the plant [29].


Flowers and Fruits:  The perfect flowers of water jacket are
pollinated by birds such as black-chinned hummingbirds.  The fleshy red
berries of this plant contain many seeds [19,24].  After ingestion,
seeds are disseminated by small mammals and birds in droppings [19,24].

Seed germination:  Seeds generally germinate late in the year following
summer rains.  In a Nevada test site study, a large number of water
jacket seeds germinated in the late summer of 1967 and early spring
1968 presumably as a result of 1967 summer rains [31].  By germinating
late in the year, the seedlings have the advantage of both winter and
spring rains [31].

Vegetative reproduction:  Root sprouting is another form of regeneration
[31,32].  Adventitious shoots form readily on broken roots [31].  Shoots
will actually form on uninjured roots that have been exposed to the air

Water jacket commonly grows on sandy or gravelly washes, sandy or
alkali flats, mesas and slopes generally from 1,500 to 6,000 feet
(457-1,829 m) in elevation [16,30].  This species exhibits some degree
of facultative adaptation for salt tolerance and has been known to occur
on poorly drained soils with high alkalinity and/or salinity [10,23].
Water jacket also occurs on highly calcareous, well-developed
desert pavement with a strongly cemented caliche layer [23].  Soil pH of
some sites where this species occurs ranges from 8.0 to 8.3 [21].
Growth of water jacket appears to be independent of soil
temperature but not of soil pH [33].  When cuttings were grown for 90
days in loam soil, acidification of the soil resulted in decreased dry
weight and calcium carbonate [33].

Water jacket is commonly found associated with the following
species:  creosotebush (Larrea tridentata), foothill "yellow" paloverde
(Cercidium microphyllum), white bursage (Ambrosia dumosa), smoke tree
(Dalea spinosa), rough ephedra (Ephedra nevadensis), hop-sage (Grayia
spinosa), pale desert-thorn (Lycium pallidum), blackbrush (Coleogyne
ramosissima), burrobush (Hymenoclea monogyra), Joshua tree (Yucca
brevifolia) [5,10,14,28,33].
Some of these species form discrete clumps of vegetation separated by
bare areas of desert pavement.  Size and spacing is irregular, and as
many as 10 different species may aggregate with interlocking foliage

Water jacket typically occurs on hot, dry sites. It often occurs
in areas with only 5 to 6.5 inches (128-162 mm) annual precipitation

Water jacket is a slow-growing shrub which appears to be a
stress-tolerant competitor and is therefore found in many older seral
communities.  This species eventually dominates over other colonizing
species but gradually gives way to the stress tolerators of the climax
communities [34].

Seasonal development of water jacket varies with seasonal climatic
conditions [26,33].  In the western United States, flowering starts in
April to June, in the southwestern United States in January to May, and
in California flowering occurs from November to April [26].  Studies in
the Lower Colorado River Valley, Nevada, showed that leaf development
occurs in late February to March followed by flowering in mid-March to
April and fruiting in April and May [9].

The plant generally becomes dormant in late May through January
depending on the amount of available moisture [9,29].  Leaf fall was
found to coincide with high temperatures and depletion of soil moisture
[33].  A study in the Rock Valley, Nevada, found that high winter
temperatures delayed leafing [29].  New leaves normally occur on
established stems even in dry years, but new shoots generally are
produced only in relatively moist growing seasons [33].


SPECIES: Lycium andersonii
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Many long-lived desert perennials are poorly adapted to fire [4] and water jacket is no exception.  Adaptations to fire are present but are not strongly developed [25].  This shrub does have the ability to sprout from the root crown after disturbance [33,34], but it may take many years for it to reach preburn densities on a burned site [4,25]. Seedling establishment of Lycium spp. was observed following a fire on a Sonoran Desert site; these seedlings resulted from seeds surviving fire in the soil, surviving on burned plants, or dispersed from resistant plants within the burn, or from unburned areas [25]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:    survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex    off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2    secondary colonizer; off-site seed carried to site after year 2


SPECIES: Lycium andersonii
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Fire typically destroys aboveground parts of water jacket, but the degree of damage to the plant depends on fire severity.  Following a high-severity fire in a creosotebush community, most plants were reduced to ash and mortality was almost inevitable [4].  Following moderate severity fires, however, intermittent sprouting occurred [4].   Lycium species were sampled following two June Sonoran Desert fires [25].  No information of the fire's severity or intensity was provided. Results are as follows [25]:                              Burned plots and transects*                          N        RS       %Kill     %Consumption                         -----------------------------------------   Deadman wash site:       9         0          50          10 Saguaro site:           33         9         100          51 * N=Number of plants RS=number of plants sprouting %Kill=Mean value of proportion of photosynthetic surface scorched or consumed by fire. %Consumption= Mean reduction of total biomass. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT: NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Water jacket sprouts from the root crown or roots after disturbance, and will presumably do so after fire [33,34]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: The Research Project Summary Nonnative annual grass fuels and fire in California's Mojave Desert provides information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including water jacket, that was not available when this species review was written. The Research Project Summary Ibarra-F and others 1996 provides information on mortality of water jacket after prescribed fires in buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) pastures in Sonora, Mexico. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: In some desert communities, such as creosotebush, where water jacket occurs, fires tend to be infrequent due to limited fuel, wide spacing between shrubs, and sparse ground cover [4].  Many desert perennials are poorly adapted to burning.  Recurrent fires appear to select for short-lived desert shrubs at the expense of long-lived species [4] such as water jacket.  Postdisturbance recolonization by long-lived species is very slow initially and may require hundreds of years [4,25].  A conservative approach toward desert fire management is recommended [25].


SPECIES: Lycium andersonii
REFERENCES:  1.  Barbour, M. G.; MacMahon, J. A.; Bamberg, S. A.; Ludwig, J. A. 1977. The        structure and distribution of Larrea communities. In: Mabry, T. J.;        Hunziker, J. H.; DiFeo, D. R., Jr., eds. Creosote bush: Biology and        chemistry of Larrea in New World deserts. U.S./IBP Synthesis Series 6.        Stroudsburg, PA: Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc.: 227-251.  [7172]  2.  Beatley, Janice C. 1966. Ecological status of introduced brome grasses        (Bromus spp.) in desert vegetation of southern Nevada. Ecology. 47(4):        548-554.  [409]  3.  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]  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.  Burk, Jack H. 1977. Sonoran Desert. In: Barbour, M. G.; Major, J., eds.        Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons:        869-899.  [3731]  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.  Goodwin, John G., Jr.; Hungerford, C. Roger. 1977. Habitat use by native        Gambel's and scaled quail and released masked bobwhite quail in southern        Arizona. Res. Pap. RM-197. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station. 8 p.  [14970]  8.  Gullion, Gordon W. 1964. Wildlife uses of Nevada plants. Contributions        toward a flora of Nevada No. 49. Beltsville, MD: U. S. Department of        Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Arboretum Crops        Research Division. 170 p.  [6729]  9.  Hanley, Thomas A.; Brady, Ward W. 1977. Seasonal fluctuations in        nutrient content of feral burro forages, lower Colorado River Valley,        Arizona. Journal of Range Management. 30(5): 370-375.  [4336] 10.  Holland, Robert F. 1986. Preliminary descriptions of the terrestrial        natural communities of California. Sacramento, CA: California Department        of Fish and Game. 156 p.  [12756] 11.  Jackson, Laura L. 1991. Recovery of abandoned arid farmland: Highlights        Desert Restoration Task Force meeting. Restoration & Management Notes.        9(1): 59-60.  [16570] 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.  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] 14.  Latting, June, ed. 1976. Symposium proceedings--plant communities of        southern California. Special Publication No. 2. Berkeley, CA: California        Native Plant Society. 164 p.  [1414] 15.  Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession        following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall        Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council        fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No.        14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373.  [1496] 16.  MacMahon, James A. 1983. Nothing succeeds like succession: ecology and        the human lot. 67th Faculty Honor Lecture, Utah State University, Logan        Utah. Utah State University Press. 31 p.  [7916] 17.  Mozingo, Hugh N. 1987. Shrubs of the Great Basin: A natural history.        Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press. 342 p.  [1702] 18.  Munz, Philip A. 1974. A flora of southern California. Berkeley, CA:        University of California Press. 1086 p.  [4924] 19.  Pendleton, Rosemary L.; Pendleton, Burton K.; Harper, Kimball T. 1989.        Breeding systems of woody plant species in Utah. In: Wallace, Arthur;        McArthur, E. Durant; Haferkamp, Marshall R., compilers.        Proceedings--symposium on shrub ecophysiology and biotechnology; 1987        June 30 - July 2; Logan, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-256. Ogden, UT: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research        Station: 5-22.  [5918] 20.  Ferguson, Dennis E.; Boyd, Raymond J. 1988. Bracken fern inhibition of        conifer regeneration in northern Idaho. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 11 p.        [2834] 21.  Romney, E. M.; Wallace, A.; Kaaz, H.; Hale, V. Q. 1980. The role of        shrubs on redistribution of mineral nutrients in soil in the Mojave        Desert. Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs. 0(4): 124-133.  [4248] 22.  Romney, E. M.; Hunter, R. B.; Wallace, A. 1990. Field trip report:        natural and managed recovery of vegetation on disturbed areas at the        Nevada Test Site. In: McArthur, E. Durant; Romney, Evan M.; Smith,        Stanley D.; Tueller, Paul T., compilers. Proceedings--symposium on        cheatgrass invasion, shrub die-off, and other aspects of shrub biology        and management; 1989 April 5-7; Las Vegas, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-276.        Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain        Research Station: 344-349.  [12870] 25.  Thomas, Renee L.; Anderson, Roger C. 1993. Influence of topography on        stand composition in a midwestern ravine forest. American Midland        Naturalist. 130(1): 1-12.  [1742] 26.  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] 27.  Shreve, Forrest; Wiggins, Ira L. 1964. Vegetation and flora of the        Sonoran Desert. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1575 p.  [4595] 28.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707] 29.  Turner, Frederick B.; Randall, David C. 1987. The phenology of desert        shrubs in southern Nevada. Journal of Arid Environments. 13: 119-128.        [2764] 30.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available:  [34262] 31.  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] 32.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707] 33.  Wallace, A.; Romney, E. M. 1972. Radioecology and ecophysiology of        desert plants at the Nevada Test Site. Rep. TID-25954. [Washington, DC]:        U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Office of Information Services. 439 p.        [15000] 34.  Webb, Robert H.; Steiger, John W.; Newman, Evelyn B. 1988. 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