Goji – Lycium
Legend has it that in the VII century a.c., on the Himalayan mountains, around a well in a Buddhist temple there were some plants that lost their ripened berries in it. The Monks that drank its water daily, lived in great health for a long time.
At the beginning of the eighties, legend apart, new technologies really allowed to attribute to the substances released by the goji berries the reason for this longevity.
The Barb arum Lyceum, botanical name of the plant that produces the Goji berries, is a perennial shrub, rustic, originally from the Himalayan regions of Asia, with a vigorous growth.
It can reach three metres in height and a little less in diameter, it has hardwood leaves that are bright green, greyish green, it stands frost and strong winds.
A sunny exposure will allow the fruit to reach a complete ripening increasing the organoleptic properties and health contents.
It favours medium blend soils, not to soft, well drained, quite acid like the ones where they come from. In Asia, where this plant is very popular, it’s used with great results to avoid the coastal areas becoming deserts, so even in soils with a relatively high ph they can vegetate vigorously offering a great produce of fruit.
FLORA AND FRUIT
Fertile on its own, in spring it wears many light purple flowers with a short life (one or two days) with different pronounced white pistils.
From the flower a small red/orange flower is born, that hangs, like the cherry, but with an oval shape, that reaches full ripen at the end of summer.
A medium size plant, with consolidated roots, it can produce several kilograms of fruit.
USE AND HEALTH PROPERTIES
Apart from being eaten fresh, the goji berries can be dried in the sun and by dehydrating themselves they become a product very similar to raisins, that can be stored until the next harvest, without losing the properties they contain.
Blended it can be mixed with other beverages or mixtures to give them the unique flavour. Famous people like Kate Moss, Misha Barton, Liz Hurley, to name some, publicly appreciate their fantastic benefits, Madonna the pop star attributes her vitality to the regular consumption of Goji.
Surfing the web, it’s enough to type Goji to see many sites appear, almost all for commercial reasons, that praise the miraculous virtues of these fruits.
Certainly, marketing has a very important role in creating its image, but it must be said that the properties enclosed in these small berries have been confirmed by many scientific studies as also the benefits that the human body gains from them. A study carried out in 1999 at the Tufts University in Boston, established a score for food taking into consideration the “Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity” known with the acronymic ORAC: greater is the antioxidant power of the food, higher is the ORAC score assigned. Food like carrots gained a score of 300 ORAC units, spinach 2.500, blackberries 2.650, blueberries 3.750, pomegranates 10.500, 30.000 per unit of measure for the Goji berry.
We know that antioxidants tackle free radicals that are responsible for the ageing of the cells and that has been estimated at 5000 ORAC units the daily need to maintain an active and young mind and body.
Not only antioxidants are present in a large number: also, the ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C, is greater by 500 times to the one contained in oranges, it contains more beta-carotene than carrots, always by unit of measure.
Various other vitamins are also present like: B1, B2, B6, E, many amino acids, more than twenty trace elements, it’s been found to control cholesterol, it improves the immune system and so much more.
The importance of the constant assumption of Goji berries is easily understood.
Due to its contents, for which we highlighted only the most relevant, the goji berry can be considered an important pharmacological food (see cranberry), a few grams a day of dried berries are definitely useful to maintain ourselves healthy and young.
For centuries in Asia, the goji berries are consumed daily by millions of people, so much that from its areas of origin, the cultivations, all but difficult, are more and more extended reaching unimaginable productions. In China, where it seems there are half of the intensive Asian cultivations, it’s estimated that the annual harvest exceeded thirty thousand tons in 2000.
In trade, more easily on the web, both dried goji berries in snack packages can be found and transformed into juices, mostly of Asian origins.
Unfortunately, there a little, if not absent, phytosanitary controls in those regions, and recently in the USA a considerable quantity of product was destroyed because in the sanitary controls very high levels of pesticides and anti-fungicide were detected.
PRUNING AND CULTIVATION
As it bears fruit on young branches, in the winter period it’s best to proceed with cutting those that are older to favour the new ones thinning the shrub and, in the meantime, caring for the aesthetical side.
Tolerating even soils that are not particularly acid, at the end of winter, an organic manure with a mature product, is useful for future development.
In Spring, with particular climate conditions, attacks from aphids or mites may occur, but these rarely cause damage to the plant.
If the infestation is relevant, it’s advisable to carry out an antiparasitic treatment at the end of blooming.
As for all plants, watering is done carefully at the start of growth, if the plant is stable instead, you will intervene if necessary, when the fruit becomes bigger, or periods of drought.
It can’t stand water stagnation, it’s advisable therefore when planting to pick a spot where rain water has a way of flowing far away.
We’d like to remind you that the PRANDINI GARDEN NURSERY collaborators are at your disposal for advice regarding the density of the plant, raising shape, cultivation choice and assistance, even phyto-sanitary for new productive plants, even of small dimensions.