Red Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum)

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The Red Goji Berry, once unobtainable in the United States, is a plant that bears highly nutritious fruit. This vitamin-rich, immune-boosting superfruit is full of antioxidants. It’s what high-profile celebrities might have a guy on speed dial for. In reality, although the harvested fruit can be hard to find, Lycium barbarum is actually commonly found growing throughout the United States, where it has been naturalized from its original habitats in Southeast Europe and Southwest Asia. 

As a member of the Solanacea (nightshade) family, its cultivation needs are nearly identical to eggplants, tomatoes, and the like. Once the plant blooms in the late spring to early summer, it will bear branches of coveted ruby-red fruits, which will ripen by mid-summer. Harvest the berries at the peak point of maturation, because they may quickly spoil if left unattended to bruise and rot. Eat Goji Berries fresh, or dry them like raisins and enjoy them in cereals, yogurt, trail mix, tea, and more.

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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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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