Whilst some may pretend Goji Berries are new to the UK and a secret to the Western world it is well documented that Goji's were first introduced to the UK in the 1600's. The name 'Goji' is fairly new and is based on the Chinese name 'Gou Qi Zi' - before this it has been known as The Chinese Wolfberry, The Matrimony Vine, The Chinese Boxthorn, The Red Medlar and even The Duke Of Argyll's Tea Tree. Surprisingly it is known to be a naturalised specie in the UK, being found in hedgerows in some parts of the Country.
What has only recently been brought to the attention of much the UK populace is the purported wonderfood status of this berry, and to this end below we detail below some of the truly miraculous medicinal benefits of the Goji Berry.
Forgetting all the health benefits of Goji's, they are a lovely fruit. Eat them fresh (shake them from the plant to prevent your hands oxidising them and making them go black), or dry them and eat them like sweets or add them to muesli to make your breakfasts power packed. You can even infuse them into a refreshing (and healthy) tea.
According to folklore, people living in the Himalayas who eat Goji Berries are reputed to live to between 120 and 150 years old! The famous Li Quing Yuen is said to have lived to over 250 years, and ate Goji berries on a daily basis. We cannot of course promise you such longentivity but... watch this space for far more information!
An ancient account of the wonderful Goji
Amazed at the magic of the Goji the merchant bowed to the lady with respect and asked, "may I be so bold as to ask what magical herb you posses?"
The lady replied, "this herb has five names. You want to take a different part of the herb each season...
In Spring you take its leaves, which are known as the Essence Of Heaven.
In Summer you take its flowers, which are known as the Longevity of Life.
In Autumn you take its fruits, which are known as the Chinese Wolfberry.
In Winter you take the bark of its root, which is known as the skin and bone of the Earth, or the Staff of the Almighty Creator.
Taking these four parts in the four Seasons respectively will give you life as lofty as Heaven and Earth."
- Self fertile.
- Hardy to all extremes of climate -15°C - +40°C (5°F - 104°F).
- Drought tolerant.
- Will reach 8 - 10 feet (2.4 - 3 metres) tall by 5 feet (1.5 metres) wide.
- A single plant should produce over 2lbs (1kg) of berries in it second year.
- Small purple and white trumpet flowers in Summer are followed by small oval berries that are orange red in colour; these can be harvested until the first frosts.
- It is better to shake the berries from the plant rather than picking by hand as this will cause the fruit to oxidize and become black in colour.
- Young plants need to be over-Winteres in a cold greenhouse / light airy window sill.
- Plant out in Spring (May/June time at the earliest, when the night time temperatures are warmer) and Summer.
- Prefer full sun or partial shade.
- Require a well draining rich soil but will perform well on lighter sandy soils - in some parts of the world they have been used as soil stabilisation plant.
- They will not tolerate heavy, wet soil.
- If planting more than one allow a minimum of 6 - 8 feet (1.8 - 2.4 metres) apart.
- Dig the ground over well and incorporate some organic matter such as well rotted manure (not fresh) or compost to give your plant the best start.
- Plant to the level the plant has been grown; firm in well and water if soil is dry.
- Under no circumstances should you use any stimulants, fertiliser or bonemeal at planting time as such products will 'burn' any new root growth and actually slow your plant's development.
- In the first growing season after planting it is vital to ensure the plant is adequately watered - and this is even more critical in extended dry periods or drought. When watering any newly planted stock a 'heavy soaking' once a week is favourable to a 'light shower' every day, and will encourage a good deep root system.
- Keep the area around the base of your plant free of weeds and grass which would otherwise compete for both moisture and nutrients.
- Once established they are wind tolerant and salt wind tolerant.
- Once established they will prove frost hardy to at least -15°C (5°F) but will similarly survive temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F).
- During the active growing season an occasional feed with our 'Instant Life' or a light top dress with a base fertiliser will prove beneficial. Under no circumstances be tempted to overfeed though.
- Pruning is best undertaken in the early Spring just as the plant breaks into growth. We would recommend pruning is kept to a minimum in order to maximise fruit yield - though Goji's will recover well from hard pruning.
- Container Growing.
- Can be grown in patio tubs or containers and should ideally be allowed to grow to a minimum height and width of around 3ft - 4ft (0.9 - 1.2 metres) in order that they can produce a worthwhile crop.
- Do not over pot your Goji plant as this may cause your plant's roots to become waterlogged.
- Pot up into a container just one or two sizes larger and allow the plant to fully root out before re-potting into the next size up - continuing until you have reached your final chosen size of container.
- Any proprietary potting compost will be fine though we would always recommend the addition of a little horticultural grit to improve drainage, particularly if you choose to use a soil based compost such as John Innes or similar.
- Long-term the ideal size of container would be something like a half-cut wooden barrel or similar.
- Good drainage is essential. Holes should be made in the base, and possibly in the sides at the base as well.
- Avoid standing the container where it will become waterlogged.
- Ideally the container should be stood on a couple of house bricks or gravel to assist drainage.
- A little brick mortar rubble in the bottom of the container to cover the drainage holes and to stop the soil falling through is recommended.
- After their first full growing year, container grown plants should prove perfectly hardy and can be left out all year round - that said, as with anything container grown, Winter protection will improve Spring growth and ultimately yield.
- Medical Uses.
- Can lift your mood and make you feel happy!
- Full of essential nutrients.
- Can help protect against eye disease.
- Has anti-bacterial properties.
- Is said to have an anti-leukaemia compound within it.
- Will enhance immunity.
- Warning Of Goji Berry Imports.
- Like everything else, our Goji's are produced here on our nursery in the UK and are therefore exempt from the DEFRA requirement that all Goji's imported from outside Europe are destroyed due to concerns of disease being passed to other plants such as tomatoes and potatoes. We are aware DEFRA are also currently investigating the fact that certain other suppliers have been importing their Goji's from China via Holland - thus securing a false European Plant Passport and we understand prosecutions are likely. Most of these plants we understand are bare rooted (and were shown on BBC Gardeners World).
- Our Goji plants and our production methods were fully inspected and approved by DEFRA as at the 23 April 2008.
- A bulletin from DEFRA can be viewed at http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2008/080430b.htm. Should you become aware of any of these bare rooted plants and/or incorrectly certified plants we urge you to contact DEFRA directly as the impact on UK grown potatoes and tomatoes would be huge if disease was introduced.
As with all alternative medicines and plants with purported medicinal benefits it is important to inform your health care providers that you are using them; this helps to ensure safe and coordinated care. We can accept no liability for any side effect or contingency from any allergy or any other cause or harm that may arise. If in doubt please do consult a medical practitioner before using.