Lycium barbarum, Boxthorn, Goji berry seeds
Lycium barbarum belongs to the family of the Solanaceae, the nightshades. L. barbarum is also known as common boxthorn and wolfberry. It is native to China but meanwhile L. barbarum is distributed all over the world. Since the 18th century it is cultivated in Europe. It is seen as an invasive species because of its rapid distribution. The common boxthorn grows as a shrub that reaches a height of about 3 m. The plant gets shrubbier with the years and stops growing higher. The branches are covered with spikes like one can suggest from its name. The leaves are lanceolate, simple and get 7 cm long and 2 cm wide. The flowers are violet in color. The stamens are clearly visible in the center hanging out of the corolla. The flowers are hermaphrodite and actinomorphic. The flowers are self fertile but bees do also pollinate the flowers. The berries, also known as Goji berry, are small and red. They can contain 15 seeds. The seeds get distributed by animals that eat the fruits and digest only the pulp. In China the fruits are eaten raw or dried. When they are dried they taste a bit like raisins. One can also produce tea from the dried fruits. The young leaves can be eaten, too. For example in a salad or cooked like vegetables. The Goji berries are rich in vitamin A and though very healthy. In the traditionally Chinese medicine the common boxthorn is used against high blood pressure. It shall also help diabetics. In Tibet one believes that the berry contains substances that stop the ageing process. It is known there as “Anti ageing berry”. The Goji berry shall also act as an aphrodisiac. Nowadays there is ongoing research around L. barbarum. It is still not known which substances really have an impact on our health. There are no intoxications with the common boxthorn known although it belongs to the Solanaceae, a family that is known for its many poisonous members.
Cultivation of Goji berry from seed:
The common boxthorn is demand less, because of that it could distribute that fast all over the world. The root of the common boxthorn is a rhizome. It is good to use a rhizome barricade if it is planted in the garden and not in a container. With that the undirected distribution of the common boxthorn can be inhibited. The seeds of L. barbarum need to be stratified before planting. Therefore they should be stored for 30 days at a temperature of 4°C in the fridge. After that they can be sown out. Seeds should not be covered with soil completely. Germination occurs after 2 to 4 weeks if the substrate is kept moist at a temperature of about 20°C. Lycium barbarum is winter hardy down to minus 20°C.
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