GRAYTHORN (Condalia lycioides)

The main form of this shrub found in Arizona has gray and hairy leaves. In our immediate area, they appear to be most common on the floodplains of the San Pedro River, less frequently seen in our uplands, though its distribution runs from 1,000 to 5,000 feet elevation. Here, below, is one from Lower Hot Springs Canyon:


The one above was leafless following the poor rainfall of summer 2003 and into October (nicely displaying the shrub's typical characteristic of each branchlet forming a right angle with the main stem and ending in a sharp point). But on the San Pedro floodplain, during the same month, the plant on the left (which in this area often forms dense thickets like you see here) still retained its leaves (though dropping of smaller leaves in drought is typical).


Graythorn may reach a height of 8 feet (pretty close to what we see here), but typically it is much smaller. It apparently can thrive in a variety of situations, being found from southeastern California to Central Texas and Mexico. It is seldom browsed by animals.




Inconspicuous flowers bloom off and on throughout the year. To the right, dark blue fruits form soon after (like these ones from May 2004, after good Spring rains), and are eaten by a wide variety of birds.


The O'odham Indians used the roots of the Graythorn to make a medicine for treating sore eyes.


For images of the leaves of Graythorn see, to the left, a small plant along the Cascabel Road that had just sprouted its leaves in March of 2004, during the good rains of the Winter. Click on the image for a closeup of the new leaves.