Wolfberry (Lycium spp.)
Wolfberry -- often the berlandier species -- is widespread in our area, growing in a variety of habitats, but is nowhere a dominant plant, though it may form sizeable clusters and is long-lived. (There are about 15 species in our desert). A spiny shrub with few but spreading branches, it ranges from 2 to 8 feet tall, sheds its leaves in drought but quickly regains them after rains. From March to September it may bear bell-shaped flowers which ripen into bright red berries the size of peas. A member of the Nightshade family (Solanaceae), its juicy berries are relished by people as well as birds and other animals (hence it is also called squaw-berry or tomatillo).
On the left, you can see it persisting on a very rocky hillside, where bedrock is only a foot or so down. (Click on the left image to enlarge.) But it also grows in alluvial floodplains, near streams, and around playa flats where these exist.
(Click on the image at right to enlarge it.)
Below, ripe fruits of Wolfberry. These two plants may represent different species. (Click on each image to enlarge it.)