Goji Berry

A Surprise

We love to snack on dried Goji berries since we discovered them years ago, way before it became a ‘hip’ dried fruit.  As far as I know almost all Goji berries come from China.  We didn’t think much about the source until so many news articles appeared concerning how polluted China’s exports have been found to be.  Food safety standards are a concern.  So we searched for USDA certified organic  dried Goji berries, found them but noted how much more expensive they are.

Then the light bulb came on…if it grows naturally in the Northern part of China and Inner Mongolia, I should be able to grow it here in the Northern US within zone 5/6.  The search for Goji berry plants started.  I bought three of them from a catalog in early spring and put them in larger pots until I could find a permanent spot for them.  I set them aside and didn’t think much about them until I saw small purple flowers on their stems.  Yes, to my surprise, the three little plants are blooming.  I didn’t expect that at all since they haven’t even settled into the ground yet.  I have a habit of replanting a newly purchased plant in pure compost whether it goes into a new pot or right into the ground.   I want to give it a boost after being confined in a small pot or bare-rooted in transit.  I think in this case it helped to push the berries to bloom.

Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) or Wolfberry is a deciduous shrub with an arching thorny branch.  It has little purple flowers that turn beige before the petals drop.  The berries turn from green to orange then bright red when they’re fully ripe.  Fresh, ripe Goji berry has a very interesting taste, not sweet, not sour but meaty (for lack of a better word) for such a small berry.  I think the sweetness of the dried berries come from the dehydration process perhaps.

Hopefully I’ll get more berries next year but between the Gray Catbirds and Cedar Waxwings I may not have any berries left.  I’m not sure I can beat the winged competition.

Little purple flowers along the stem
Little purple flowers along the stem
A closer look at the flower
A closer look at the flower
The flowers turned beige before dropping
The flowers turned beige before dropping
Various stages of the berries
Various stages of the berries
Fully ripe
Fully ripe

4 thoughts on “Goji Berry

  1. So interesting to read about this and see your nice photos. The purple flower is nice and the birds must be delighted with the berries. I’ve eaten chocolate-covered Goji berries a few time without really knowing what they were.

    1. So far the birds leave the Goji berry alone because there are plenty of other small fruits around: Dogwood, Common barberry, American yew and wild grapes.

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