Goji berries are the fruits that grow on evergreen shrubs growing in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia, Tibet, and several regions of Himalayas. The original home of goji berries is obscure, but goji berry fruits are now grown around the world, including in China of course.
Goji berries are also known as Wolfberries, Chinese Wolfberries, Red Medlars, Bocksdorns, Cambroneras, Matrimony Vines, or Duke of Argyll's Tea Trees. Goji berries are known as “Duke of Argyll's Tea Trees” in the United Kingdom, as these were introduced to the United Kingdom by Archibald Campbell, the third Duke of Argyll (1682–1761) in the 1730s.
Goji berries are botanically the fruits of two very closely related species of Lycium Barbarum and L. Chinese . These are two species of boxthorn that belong to the nightshade (Solonaceae) family, which also includes the potato, tomato, eggplant, deadly nightshade, chili pepper, and tobacco.
Goji berry plants have lavender or light purple flowers. The flowering period of goji berry plants begins from June through September in the northern hemisphere. Goji berry fruits are 1-2 cm long ellipsoid berries of bright orange-red color. Goji berries have a mild tangy taste, which is slightly sweet and sour. Goji berry fruits have a similar shapes and chewy texture as raisins. Goji berries contain anywhere between 10-60 tiny yellow seeds that are packed together with a curved embryo; the number of seeds in each goji berry varies depending on cultivar and fruit size. From August to October in the Northern hemisphere is the ripening period of goji berry fruits.
Goji berry fruits are popularly known as nature’s most nutritionally dense foods in Asia. They have been used in the traditional Chinese medicines for nearly 2,000 years. Currently, goji berries are widely grown and recognized for their nutrient richness and antioxidant qualities. Goji berries are often dubbed as “superfruits.” They have great commercial importance in the flourishing global food industry. The Tibetan goji berries have great value in the health food market.
Goji berry fruits are never found fresh anywhere except their production regions. They are usually sold or available as dried in open bins and small packages. The dried goji berry fruits are shriveled red berries that look like red raisins. The degree of desiccation varies in goji berries; some are soft, some are tacky, and some are hard. The goji berries with vibrant orange-red color may have been treated with sulfites. Goji berry fruits are usually used directly, and do not need to be re-hydrated before use.
Goji berries are eaten raw, brewed into a tea, taken as goji berry juice or wine, or added to Chinese soups. Goji berry juices are usually available in 32-ounce bottles. Goji berries can be purchased from Chinese herbal shops. Goji berries have currently grown very popular in North America. They are being used in snack foods in North America. There are a number of health food stores, such as Trader Joe's selling goji berry foods. Goji berries can also be purchased from online stores, and through network marketers.