What in the world is a Goji Berry?
My first experience with the Goji Berry plant came as I walked through a Proven Winner test garden. I was attracted to a weeping plant just loaded with red berries, and I remember thinking, "If these berries are edible and beneficial, this plant has got to be a winner." As if reading my thoughts, the tour guide pointed to the Goji Berry and explained, "The Goji Berry (or Lycium barbarum) is native to China. Its fruit is highly regarded as a Super Berry which means it's really good for you. Its fruit is found in 358 different food products offered in the USA."
Here's what I found out later. There are health benefits with Goji Berries. The fruit of the Goji Berry plant contains many antioxidants, including 19 amino acids, 21 trace minerals, protein and vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, E and A. The berries are eaten dried like raisins, raw or cooked and are used in herbal medicines, teas, juices and wine.
At a quick stop recently, I was surprised to see a small package with the word Goji printed in large letters on the front. The contents proved to be Goji berries and raspberries covered in dark chocolate. Quite a healthy little snack.
In a recent Wall Street Journal I found a large article regarding a variety of exotic berries:
The following plants produce "Super Berries": Goji Berry, Elderberry, Black Raspberry, Blueberry, Aronia Berry, Yumberry, Ollieberry and Barberry. Like the Goji Berry, the Yumberry, Ollieberry and Barberry are new to me. Grocery stores in my area often offer Blueberries and sometimes Black Raspberries. But the other berries have yet to make it to their shelves. To benefit from these super berries, then, it looks like we're going to have to grow our own.
Here in the Midwest it's easy to grow the Goji Berry, Raspberry, Blueberry, Aronia and Elderberry. If you are new at growing berry plants, I suggest you start with the Goji Berry. It is the easiest and fastest growing berry plant.
There are two Goji varieties in the "Vitamin Berries” category: Sweet Giant and Sweet Treat. Both Sweet Giant and Sweet Treat are hardy to Zone 5.
The Goji Berry is a sprawling shrub with long, flexible canes and clusters of small grey-green leaves. Flowers are a brilliant purple and appear in late Spring/early Summer along the length of the canes.Flowers turn into bright red fruits that resemble small peppers. Berries grow sweeter as they mature on the plant. The Goji Berry thrives in full sun. Plants can reach 10’ tall and 5’ wide. Fertilize in early Spring just as new growth appears with either rose fertilizer or plant food for flowering shrubs.
I was right, the Goji Berry is a winner. Plant and enjoy!
For more information and recipes using Goji Berries download our free flyer.