Desert Thorn

Lycium Shawii - (G. Simkins)
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Scientific Name Lycium shawii Arabic Name Ausaj Tagged As Plant, Shrub, Nightshade Endangered Status

Botanical Description

Very rigid thorny shrub, up to 3 meters high, stems erect, much branched with alternate spines varying in size, tips of branches and side branches spiny.


Thin, elliptical to a spoon shape with smooth edge, tapering at base, on short stalk.


Solitary,small, rarely in pairs, narrowly tubular or trumpet shaped, up to 6mm long with 5 equal teeth, corolla up to 16mm long, tubular, variable in colour white, pink to purple, stamens unequal, exceeded petals.


Berries of pea size, spherical, orange in colour, edible, contain many seeds.


From September to April.


Desert plant, common in the UAE in variety of habitats: gravel plains, hillsides, wadis and plantation, often in association with Acacia tortilis and Prosopis cineraria.


In the northern foothills and plains, also in mountains to 4000 feet, cultivated in nurseries in western region of Abu Dhabi for windbreaks and sand stabiliser.


Stems are boiled in water with the strained liquid used as a laxative and diuretic.

Leaves used to treat jaundice in Saudi Arabia.

Berries are edible when ripe, and are pounded and eaten to treat colic, and are also applied around the eyes to improve vision.

Despite its thorns it is heavily browsed by livestock when growing ion its own. It can often be found intertwined in Acacia tortilis trees where it is not browsed and can grow larger.