Tomato? Christmas Berry!



Named for its fruits that are most profuse during the Christmas season is this native salt marsh succulent — Christmas berry (Lycium caroninanum). Its fruits resemble tiny, smaller than dime-sized tomatoes, and, indeed, this plant is a member of the economically important nightshade plant family, Solananacae, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant & tobacco.


You can see how succulent its small needle-like leaves are in this photo taken by Nancy Soucy at the Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail, and yes, its flower belie its botanical relations …
Christmas berry is commonly found along the banks of mosquito control dikes upland of the mangroves, as pictured here at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area …
Like most saltmarsh plants, Christmas berry is tolerant a a wide range of conditions from drought to flooding. Its foliage often has a wonderful arching form that would make an excellent landscape accent …
Lichens (fungi & alga growing together symbiotically) sometimes adorn its branches.
Birds and other wildlife consume its tomato-like fruits. Butterflies nectar upon its flowers. Christmas berry often is overlooked as a potential landscape plants.

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