Black Goji Berry (Lycium ruthenicum)

Black Goji Berry (Lycium ruthenicum)

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For the horticultural road less traveled, you can take a swing at growing Black Goji Berry, or Lycium ruthenicum. Originally discovered in the higher inner Himalayas, Lycium ruthenicum holds a storied past as an ancient medicinal fruit, which is still cultivated for its benefits in traditional medicine practices. It makes a strong case for its potential healing powers, as a plant that thrives in dry climates, with a good hardiness against cold conditions.

As Lycium ruthenicum matures, its growth pattern will emerge with copious branches stemming from the original plant, flowering in the spring, and fruiting in the late summer. It fruits with purple-black berries to be eaten raw, cooked, or dried into teas and tisanes. 

Plant Type
Perennial Fruiting Shrub
Goji Berry plants may be Evergreen or Deciduous depending on conditions.

Harvest Season
Summer, Fall

Mature Size
3-6 ft.

Soil & Moisture
Rich, moist, well-draining soil. Mature plants have good drought tolerance but irrigation may increase yields.  Goji berry is adaptable to Mediterranean, subtropical, tropical, temperate climates.

Light Requirements
Full Sun, Part Shade

Self-Fertile
Yes

Growth Rate
Medium

Zone Hardiness
Outdoors 3-10; Patio/Greenhouse 4+

Propagation

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256 or Bust

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Li Ching-Yuen was a Chinese herbalist who sold goji berries, among other natural medicines. At the time of his death in 1933, his birth records showed that he was born in 1677, which would make him 256 years old. He even received birthday wishes from the Chinese government on his 150th and 200th birthdays. Skeptics believe Li Ching-Yuen might have assumed the identity of an older ancestor with the same name.

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