(Syn. Wolfberry; gouqizi)
Plant Source: Lycium barbarum L. and L. chinense Mill. (Family Solanaceae)
Other names: Chinese Wolfberry, Lycium Fruit. Tibetan Goji Berry
Background information: The name Tibetan Goji Berry is in common use in the natural health food market. Berries from the Goji plant that are claimed to have been grown in the Himalaya region form the basis of a very large health food market. The etymological origin of "Goji" is unclear but it is likely a simplified spelling of gouqi.
Both species of Goji (Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense) are deciduous woody perennial plants, growing 1-3 m high. L. chinense is grown in the south of China and tends to be somewhat shorter, while L. barbarum is grown in the north and tends to be somewhat taller.
In addition to being cultivated in China, Goji also grows on extensive vines in the sheltered valleys of the Himalayas in Tibet, and in Mongolia. The round, red Goji berries are very tender and must be shaken from the vine rather than picked in order to avoid spoiling. The Goji fruits are preserved by slowly drying them in the shade. The berry has been eaten locally in the Himalayan and Tibetan regions for centuries and is celebrated in festivals. The Goji fruit is nicknamed the "happy berry" because of the sense of well being it is said to induce.
Goji berries and lycium bark play important roles in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), where they are believed to enhance immune system function, help eyesight, protect the liver, boost sperm production, and improve circulation, among other effects. In TCM terms, Goji berries are sweet in taste and neutral in nature; they act on the liver, lung, and kidney channels and enrich yin. Goji berries can be eaten raw, brewed into a tea, or prepared as a tincture.
Goji berries are nutritionally rich, containing beta-carotene, Vitamins C, B1, B2 and other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. Companies marketing the berries also claim the berries contain such nutrients as isoleucine, tryptophan, zinc, iron, copper, calcium, germanium, selenium, phosphorus, B6, and vitamin E.
Culinary uses: As a food, dried Goji Berries may be eaten raw or cooked. Their taste is somewhat similar to that of raisins. Dried Goji Berry is an ingredient often used in Chinese soups. Young shoots and leaves of the Lycium bush are also grown commercially as a leaf vegetable. A wine containing Goji Berries (called gǒuqǐ jiǔ; 枸杞酒) is also produced. Ref