How to identify African boxthorn
boxthorn is a woody shrub reaching up to 4 metres in height, with
glossy leaves and an extensive root system incorporating a long branched
taproot. The trunk and branches are light brown and smooth when young,
turning darker brown or grey with age. The twigs end in a hard, sharp
spike or thorn.
- The white flowers are usually produced in
summer, although flowering can occur through most of the year. The fruit
is an oblong berry approximately 10 mm long, going from a smooth green
appearance to bright orange-red when ripe. Fruits contain numerous
small, oval, flattened seeds. Seeds germinate at any time of the year
and generally take two years to reach flowering stage.
- African boxthorn can be confused with the native tree violet (Hymenanthera dentate).
Tree violet has yellow flowers and purple or white fruits, and the
leaves tend to be narrower than the leaves of African boxthorn, and
sometimes have toothed margins. For information on other similar native
plants, see the African Boxthorn Fact Sheet (Molonglo Catchment Group).
- For further help in identifying African boxthorn, search the Dennis Morris Weeds and Endemic Flora database
for African boxthorn illustrations. If you are still in doubt about the
weed you are dealing with, contact your Regional Weed Management
Officer on 1300 368 550 for help.
Image top right: African boxthorn fruiting branch showing ripening fruit.
Image above left: African boxthorn bush
Image above right: African boxthorn close up of branches and thorns.
African boxthorn in Tasmania
- African boxthorn is found throughout most agricultural areas of Tasmania, including King Island and Cape Barren Island (see map). It is commonly found along fence-lines and beneath overhead wires, as well as along roadsides, railways and waterways.
boxthorn invades pastures and waste areas, reducing access and causing
difficulty in stock movement. The spines can injure people, animals and
What is the legal status of African boxthorn in your area?
legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing
with African boxthorn are laid out in the African boxthorn Statutory Weed Management Plan.
Table 1 (Zone A municipalities) and Table 2 (Zone B municipalities) in
the Statutory Weed Management Plan to find out whether your area falls
in an eradication or containment zone.
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