The small Goji Berry is the "new" superfood.
Photo used with permission from Goji Grow.
Goji Grow is a UK company that sells goji berry plants!
Check them out here: http://gojigrow.com/
Common Name: Goji Berry, Wolfberry
Scientific Name: Lycium barbarum, Lycium chinense
Family: Solanaceae (nightshade)
Goji Berries are only 1-2 cm (0.4-0.8 inches) long.
Goji Berry (Wolfberry) plants are medium-sized, deciduous shrubs with small purple/blue flowers that produce small red fruit (1-2 cm). There are two very closely related species (Lycium barbarum, Lycium chinense). I have had dried goji berries on a few occasions. They remind me of raisins. They have a bit of a nutty flavor reminiscent of a tart dried cherry. I have also had goji berry juice (it was blended with apple juice), and it had a rather tropical flavor to it. Quite good.
From the book by Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany
Goji Berries, Wolfberries, Matrimony Vine, Red Medlar, Duke of Argyll's Tea Tree... all names used to describe this plant over many years. Recently, it has become known as a "superfood" due to its high antioxidant levels, but it has been cultivated for thousands of years around the world, especially in China. Even though it is a "new" plant to the western world, it was grown as early as the 1700's in the UK.
- Named the "Wolfberry" likely due to confusion about the scientific name... "Lycos" means "wolf" in Greek. "Lycium" means "originating from Lycia", a region in modern day Turkey.
- It is said that if held in the hands for too long, the fruit can oxidize and develop black spots. It may just be that the fruit bruises easily.
- Are fairly wind and salt tolerant.
- Are fairly drought tolerant one established.
- Recently ranked number one on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Scale... used to rank foods with the healthy antioxidants (compounds that destroy free radicals that cause cancer and aging).
- Some reports that it may interfere with the metabolism of warfarin (Coumadin) and make the blood more "thin", i.e. increase the risk of bleeding. However, this should not be an issue for a person not on this medicine.
Dried Goji Berries is likely how we will see if for sale.
We'll need to grow it ourselves if we want them fresh.
USING THIS PLANT
- Fresh eating
- Dried (can be dried whole in a dehydrator)
- General insect (especially bees) nectar plant
- Young shoots are edible - use as a cooked green
- Leaves are edible - use as a cooked green
- Wine, Beer
- Soil stabilization plant
- Informal hedge plant
Harvesting: Pick when ripe; typically mid-Autumn (harvest before the first frost); many people just shake the plant, and the ripe fruit will drop (lay out a sheet under the plant first)
Storage: Fresh fruit does not last long
Small, pretty flower of the Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum)
The deciduous leaves of the Goji Berry
DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9 (some sources say 2-7)
Chill Requirement: Likely will produce better with some chill, but no information available
Plant Type: Medium-sized Shrub
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Shrub
Cultivars/Varieties: Over 80 varieties available.
Years to Begin Bearing: 2-3 years
Years to Maximum Bearing: 4-5 years
Years of Useful Life: No good information available
The Goji Berry is not a typical specimen, or centerpiece, plant, but it is well worth its less than beautiful growing form.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT
Size: 6-10 feet (2-3 meters) tall and wide
Growth Rate: Medium
These Almond Goji Berry Truffles look amazing!
A fantastic video on Goji Berries and how to use them in the kitchen.
GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT
Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates moderate shade (up to 80%,
Moisture: Medium to Low - often prefers sandier soils... soils that do not hold much water. They don't like wet roots.
Propagation: By seed. Shoot tips can root where they touch the ground.
Minimal. May need to prune back arching tips to prevent the plant from spreading.
There are some reports of stomach upset when eating the uncooked parts of the plant.