Goji (Lycium barbarum) - a sprawling tall shrub, up to 3.5 m tall. It is common in the Himalayas, found at an altitude of 3000 m above sea level. China is considered the homeland. You can also find shrubs in southern Europe, Iran, North Africa.
This shrub is also known by the names Dereza vulgaris, Chinese Dereza. It belongs to the genus Dereza, the Solanaceae family. The names are common Chinese wolfberry, red medlar, wolfberry (should not be confused with a common plant with the same name in Russia).
Legends of Goji Berries
The name Goji came from the east. It is found in manuscripts made 650 years BC, in which the berry is called medicinal, with the ability to purify and rejuvenate the blood. In China, legends call goji berries the fruits of immortality. One legend tells of the times of the Tang Dynasty, when an extraordinary shrub grew, the fruits of which, after ripening, fell into a spring at the foot of the mountains.
Residents who drank water from this spring maintained excellent health, strength, and youth. Today goji berries are actively advertised worldwide as "berries of happiness and longevity."
What does goji look like?
Goji is a deciduous shrub with thick, deep roots giving many offspring. The crown is thick.
Goji branches are long, rod-shaped, drooping with age, covered with thin spines. The shoots are light yellow. Leaflets on short petioles, alternate, whole, elliptical, fleshy, green above and bluish below. Bell flowers are lilac or purple-pink. Fruits are red, juicy, oblong-shaped berries that taste sweet-bitter or sour.
Fruits in May to September, in other regions until October. Several crops are harvested during this period; August is considered the most valuable. Dried berries look like large raisins. The seeds are small, about a millimeter.
Planting, growing and care
Seeds due to their small size do not require processing, have good germination. Seeds before planting are soaked in zircon or epin for 1-2 hours. Sow medium-soft soil, for example, one part of crushed peat and two parts of loam. Neutral soils are preferred.
The container with seeds should be placed in a bright, warm place, maintain constant humidity and temperature without large fluctuations. It is not recommended that jets of cold air from a window fall on the seeds or overheating occurs from a battery or a nearby electric heater.
After seed germination, the plants are placed in a bright place with diffused sunlight or partial shade. After the appearance of the first real pair of leaves, they are planted. Pulling with a transplant is not worth it, as the roots quickly grow in depth, for transplanting take pots with a depth of at least 7 cm so that the roots are free. Seedlings pinch to enhance branching.
A 40 cm deep pit is prepared for planting. The earth is mixed with organic and mineral fertilizers. When planting, the seedling should be slightly deepened, well watered and mulched with peat or humus. During growth, flowering and fruiting, infrequent watering is useful.
Goji is a cross-pollinating plant, for good fruiting you need to plant at least 2 bushes.
Goji grown from seeds bloom in the second year, and yield for 3-4 years. Berries are picked by shaking them from a branch to a fabric, because when they come in contact with the skin, they oxidize it, and then the skin turns black. Dried berries in the shade.
Last year’s shoots provide the main crop, so older branches are cut so that the crown is not very thick.
Goji can also be planted with cuttings, root offspring, shoot tips, tilting them to the ground for rooting.
Goji is an unpretentious plant. The shrub is resistant to weather changes, since in the homeland, in mountainous areas, there are droughts and frosts, prolonged rainfall, stormy winds. Therefore, there are no special requirements for care, it is advisable only to plant in neutral fertilized soils, on acidic it grows slightly worse.
The shrub is resistant to urban conditions, tolerates well light shading, cutting. It grows quickly, in dry years it needs watering. Of the pests can only be affected by powdery mildew and aphids.
It is possible to grow goji as an indoor plant. Then you should winter in a cool place - about 10 0C. The plant is planted in a deep container, watered regularly, preventing the land from drying out. Be sure to keep the plant in a well-lit place.
Question about the medicinal properties of goji
In the modern world, goji berries are advertised as a source of a unique set of natural ingredients, a large amount of vitamin C, 4 rare polysaccharides that are not found in other foods. In the North American market, it is called the “cure for all diseases.”
Japanese scientist H. Wu published a study stating that goji juice is able to restore the structure of DNA molecules due to the presence of biologically active substances in it. Evidence is provided that one Chinese from the Himalayas who consumed goji daily lived for 252 years.
In China, Japan, Switzerland, Mongolia, Tibet, studies have been conducted, the results of which prove the effectiveness of goji in the treatment and prevention of cancer. The antioxidant effect of berries, according to scientists, delays aging.
Goji berries, juice from them and decoctions are used to treat hypertension, lumbago, diabetes, dizziness, and are used to improve vision, potency, a tonic, antitumor agent. Bark and roots are used in the treatment of fever, cough, to lower blood cholesterol, as a diuretic, laxative.
At the same time, a study on consumer protection conducted by CBC in Sloan Ketterin Memorial Cancer Center in New York City claims that the claim to prevent breast cancer from drinking juice is not true. Earl Mindella says that dried berries do not contain vitamin C as claimed by other scientists. One red apple contains the same amount of antioxidants as 13 servings of Goji berry juice.
Use and storage of goji berries
Goji berries are used in the preparation of desserts, yogurts, tea, juices, wine, cocktails, fruit purees. Berries are added to cereals, soups, pastries. Fresh fruits have a sweet taste with a nightshade flavor, which disappears after drying or freezing. Berries become sweet, resembling dried apricots. Oil is produced from seeds. Shoots and leaves are also used to make tea.
The berries are stored in a dry, dark place, the infusions of berries are stored for no more than 2 days in a cool place.
Due to the long flowering and fruiting, the bright color of the fruit, goji is an excellent ornamental shrub.