The goji berry is the fruit of the common buckthorn (Lycium barbarum) and the Chinese buckthorn (Lycium chinense). The term “goji berry” is the translation of the Chinese name “ningxiá gouqi”, in English “gouqi from Ningxiá”, an area in northwestern China.
The buckthorn (Lycium barbarum), also known as the devil’s twine, belongs to the Solanaceae family and is in equal demand as an ornamental and useful plant. The deciduous shrub has been native to Central Europe for so long that its original distribution area is hardly traceable. It probably stretched from southeastern Europe to China. For a long time, the fruits of the shrub were considered poisonous, but recent research has shown that the goji berry contains many healthy ingredients. In addition to vitamin C and iron, the fruits contain B vitamins and carotenoids. The plants offered by us as Goji berries are always cultivated, as the wild plant is not suitable for use as fruit.
Appearance and growth
The buckthorn is between two and three metres high and wide. The fast-growing shrub is hardy in winter. Its long shoots overhang arching. The leaves are up to ten centimetres long, lanceolate, with entire margins and grey-green. From June to August, hermaphroditic, purple, five-toothed flowers with a bell-shaped calyx appear. The goji berries are orange-yellow or bright red, half to two centimetres long and elongated to ovoid. Partly they resemble the shape of paprika. Each fruit contains light brown seeds.
Location and soil
Goji berries grow in sunny locations on any permeable garden soil. Similar to sea buckthorn, they can even cope with very light sandy soils and high salt concentrations.
In larger planters you can also cultivate goji berries on the balcony and terrace. The best time for planting is spring from mid-May. If you want to plant the shrub in the garden, you should definitely use a root barrier at least 30 centimetres deep made of strong pond liner, as otherwise the buckthorn can spread strongly. However, the culture-forms form less strong runners than the game-form.
After planting, the goji berry must be sufficiently watered. A little fresh compost in spring is sufficient as fertiliser.
Education and editing
For vigorous, multi shoot growth, cut the young plants back to about 20 centimetres in the first year so that they branch out well from below. In the following year you can thinn out the buckthorn to five to six thicker shoots. The best time for this is after the harvest in autumn. Also last year’s shoots are cut after the harvest. After about five years you can completely remove the oldest main shoots and retighten two new shoots. Fruit bearing shoots should be supported with a pole. The education on a wire palier is possible.
Goji berries are self-pollinating, but are occasionally pollinated by insects.
Harvesting and recycling
The buckthorn bears fruit from about the third year on. The total weight of goji berries per shrub can reach up to one kilogram. The delicate fruits are reminiscent of a mixture of cranberries and cherries. You can enjoy them fresh, but you can also dry them and process them into tea or juice. Goji berries taste good in sauces, soups, salads and muesli and can be baked into bread or cake. Goji berries are also suitable for preparation as jam in combination with other berries or cherries.
In Central Asia, the goji berry has long been regarded as the key to health, beauty and a long life. In Tibet, the buckthorn has therefore even been given a holiday of its own. We’ve only been talking about goji berries for a few years. Especially since all of Hollywood has been praising the anti-aging effect of the goji berry known as superfood, studies on its health benefits are springing up like mushrooms. Goji berries contain important nutrients such as betaine, amino acids, proteins, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C and more vitamin B2 than any other known fruit. The antioxidant effect of the berries is said to be even 4,000 percent higher than that of oranges, and several new studies confirm the good reputation of goji berries over thousands of years. According to a study from the Netherlands, for example, it reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 27 percent. In addition to preventing cancer, arthrosis and infections, the goji berry is also suitable for treating glaucoma, high blood pressure, blood sugar and Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, an aphrodisiac effect is attributed to the plant in Asia. The allegations of a 19th century study that goji berries contained the poison hyoscyamine frequently found in nightshade plants could not be proven in recent studies. By the way: Since the buckthorn is so undemanding and robust, it is often planted as a roadside green, preferably on the central reservation of motorways.
Goji berries in the our store-Shop
There are two groups of goji berry varieties. On the one hand, there are varieties with orange-red and furrowed fruits, which have a mild taste and are ideal for raw consumption. Recommended variety names include ‘NQ1’, ‘Turgidus’ and ‘L22’. The other group includes varieties with signal red, very small and evenly shaped berries. Big & Sweet, Korean Big and Instant Success are some of them. They tend to taste tart and peppery. As a rule, all varieties already produce fruit in the first year.
The increase of the Bocksdorn is very simple and takes place in the autumn through Steckhölzer or root runners. Sowing is possible, but you will have to wait three to five years for the first harvest.
Diseases and pests
Goji berries are considered to be relatively robust against plant diseases and pests. Powdery mildew may occur if the location is too damp, poorly ventilated and sunny.
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.