8 Oct 2019

Goji Goji Go!

My plant of the week :) and why you should grow them ...

Small five petalled purple and cream flowers hang from an edible Goji berry shrub

This is another of my £2 supermarket 'twigs' - the Goji Berry, occasionally known as Wolfberry or Duke of Argyll's tea.  Residing in a middle sized pot and parked just inside the shade edge of the lime trees in the Car Park garden, it has (over several years) grown to be a single lengthy arching stem with two straggly branches, a few leaves and no fruit.  Pretty pointless, I'm sure you'd agree.

Last autumn however, it wheedled its way back - not so much into my affections as into whatever piques my interest.  It bore fruit.  Or rather, a fruit.  One tiny glowing red berry shining through the autumn gloom.  So, naturally, I was expecting greater things from the plant this year.

But nothing.  And, frankly, if I hadn't been too busy with other garden matters, the plant was destined for the compost.  Luckily that was another thing I never got round to.

At the weekend I noticed these tiny but rather beautiful purple flowers - wow, gorgeous! Goji plants are supposed to flower in the summer but as it's been in part shade and practically drowned in recent weeks (it likes a free draining soil), I'm prepared to overlook a little tardiness. If these flowers ripen into fruit, I doubt I'll eat them as the plant is part of the solanaceae plant family - ie, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and ... deadly nightshade.  Caution is advised unless fully ripe.

These flowers have earned the plant a stay of execution; in fact, a repotting is now on the cards for next spring. In time, when it's grown to be about a metre high,  it will (allegedly) produce up to a kilo of super healthy fruit. To be honest, I've never eaten goji berries, fresh or dried - will it all be worth it, I wonder?

My first thoughts were to plant it into the edible border where it's roots could explore without constraint but it's reputed to sucker like nobody's business - not ideal. It can also grow to twice my height, given the right environment (which is just about anywhere). So it will have to remain as a container plant, although I'm going to gradually work up to a fairly decent sized large pot - apparently a half barrel is ideal.  (Might take a while.)

So the only mystery remaining is why the plant is also referred to as the Matrimony Vine.  Any guesses?

A few notes about the goji plant:

Botanical name - Lyceum barbarum (it has sharp barbed stems)
Ultimate height and width - can grow up to 10ft x 4ft wide, unless containerised
Aspect - tolerates light shade but fruits more prolifically in full sun
Soil - moist but free draining. Add grit to heavy clay before planting. Neutral pH.
Location - not fussy, will tolerate coastal salt laden winds
Taste - sweet/sour when fresh and ripe, like a cherry tomato; best flavour when dried and rehydrated.
Uses - related to the tomato, use in rice and pilaf dishes, salsas and sauces. Or eat like sweets!
Health benefits - a superfood that has (allegedly) been 'scientifically proven' to be good for eyes, skin, immune system, protects against cancer, alleviates depression and anxiety but weight loss and anti-aging properties are probably a myth!


  1. I think I’d be very cautious too. The flowers are pretty though. Our honey berries are getting the chop this year.

  2. I have a small plant too, it's still in the pot and has done hardly anything except produce a long arching stem! Interesting to hear it can be poisonous!xxx

  3. What an attractive flower Caro. Is it the plant evergreen? I hope that you solve the mystery behind the name.


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