Summary of California Desert Thorn and its traditional use

Kumeyaay name: unknown

California Desert Thorn (Lycium californicum)


California desert thorn is a rare native from the coast of southern California and northern Baja California. It has a mounding habit that spreads up to 10 feet. The succulent leaves are very small and bright green. It is summer deciduous but will quickly leaf out after a summer rain. It blooms in the spring and summer and has white petals with purple spots.  The bright red shiny berries are edible and said to taste like tomatoes.


The Kumeyaay collected berries from this thorn plant. The berries are dried and either boiled into mush or ground into flour and mixed with water.  The berries are also eaten fresh.