Scientific Name: Lycium barbarum
Wolfberry — commercially called Goji berry, is a species of boxthorn in the family Solanaceae ( potato, tomato, eggplant, deadly nightshade, chili and sweet peppers and tobacco are all plants in this family).
Goji berry originates in the temperate and subtropical regions of China, Mongolia and Tibet in the Himalayas. The plant is cultivated extensively across central and northern China.
Goji berry is a deciduous, arching, often spiny, woody shrub, growing from 1-3 meters high. Funnel-shaped flowers appear in summer followed by red berries. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees. Goji berry is fully hardy and can grow in sandy or clay soils that are nutritionally poor. It needs semi shade or full sun. Prune the Goji berry 2-3 times a year to encourage a compact, well-branched shrub for heavier fruiting and easier harvesting by removing dead wood in winter and cutting back growth in spring. Goji berry is a useful fast-growing shrub that can be used for hedging, especially on coastal sites or as a stabilizer for sandy banks since it has a good root system.
Harvest and parts used
Root bark, leaves and fruit.
When ripe, the Goji berries are tender and must be picked carefully or shaken from the stems, then washed and put onto trays to avoid spoiling. The fruits are preserved by drying them in full sun on open trays.
Goji berries taste like raisins with a slight suggestion of tomatoes. They can be eaten raw or can be cooked. The Chinese make soups with Goji berry and also brew it into a wine. They consume the leaves as a vegetable.
Goji berry has immune system enhancing properties. It is one of the richest natural sources of nutrients — vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and E, flavonoids and other bio-active compounds. Goji berries contain 21 trace elements, 7 vitamins and 18 Amino acids, and are a good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. Goji berries are capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also of halting or reversing the growth of cancers. Take them to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, poor eyesight, vertigo, lumbago, impotence and menopausal complaints. Goji berries contain Betaine which is an alkaloid sometimes classed as an amino acid. Research has shown that Betaine could be used for various chronic liver diseases, improving muscle mass, calming of nervousness and memory enhancement. 100 grams of Goji berries contains 370 calories and can be taken on a daily basis for general health.
Goji berry leaves and bark are used as a sedative and painkiller and to treat inflammation, skin diseases, anemia, coughs and nose bleeds. They have neuro-protective properties and also help cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, and also vision-related diseases (such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma).
The bark can be eaten raw or made into a tea, and the leaves are used in a herbal infusion (tea).