Also known as:
African Boxthorn
South Africa

General description

Densely branched, woody, evergreen perennial shrub <6m tall. Rigid spines form a box-like arrangement. Hairless, almost stalkless leaves -narrow, oblong & <40mm long; occur alternately on young shoots but clustered on mature stems. White - pale mauve flowers (Jul-Mar) have slender corolla tube. Poisonous orange-red berries.

Aggressive coloniser of sand dunes, gravel, coastal shrublands, pasture, waste places, roadsides. Used as stock-proof hedging plant in some areas.

Birds mainly disperse seeds.

Invades sand dunes, often the only woody plant in this environment. Dominates native vegetation.

Site management

Prefers open sites so revegetate following clearance.

Recommended approaches

1. Hand pull seedlings, winch out larger plants.
2. Cut & stump paint (200ml glyphosate/1L or 5g metsulfuron/1L).
3. Spray, Nov - Apr, (100ml glyphosate/10L (do not use penetrant)).
Preferably treat coastal sites after rain to lessen effect of salt on herbicide. Ensure total coverage.

Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

Crataegus monogyna

Hawthorn is a taller tree with multilobed triangular leaves compared with the oblong leaves of boxthorn.

Berberis glaucocarpa

Barberry is a much shorter shrub with spiny toothed leaves, yellow flowers and small purple berries.

Search tags

RPMS status

Surveillance - Whole Region
boxthorn - Main species image