Gojiberry: True Species and Culture Information
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Patricia Del Negro
Posted on: May 10, 2006

There is alot of controversy about goji berries (Lycium barbarum) and wolfberries being different. You list WOLFBERRY, CHINESE as Lycium barbarum, which would be Goji and Lycium chinense is WOLFBERRY, CHINESE. Are you certain that you are selling L. barbarum?

You are right about controversy surrounding the identity of gojiberry. I have written previously about gojiberry and the confusion over its identity. Please see:

http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=./QandA/Richters/20060407-7.html

The common name "chinese wolfberry" may be applied to several different different species of Lycium native to China. In fact the entire genus Lycium is known as "wolfberry". According to the Flora of China gives the chinese name for L. barbarum as "ning xia gou qi" and L. chinense as "gou qi". "Gou qi" is prounounced as "go-chi" which was morphed into "goji" by early promoters of the herb in America. Both species, as well as others, are used in Chinese traditional medicine, often interchangeably.

Do we have Lycium barbarum or L. chinense? We believe that we have L. barbarum based on the fact that most "gou qi" in the Chinese herb trade is L. barbarum and based on the material we have received in the past from the same source. However, because species substitution is very common in China, it is not possible to be absolutely sure that any particular lot is L. barbarum. Without growing out seeds to the flowering stage, there is no way to verify the exact species of any one lot. Our policy is to grow out every lot of seeds we sell to the seedling stage and beyond, but because the differences between L. barbarum and L. chinense are subtle -- mainly in the morphology of the flowers -- it is not possible to distinguish between those two species by the time our grow-out tests are complete.

I was disappointed that I did not recieve much info on growing WOLFBERRY, CHINESE Lycium barbarum.

We have answered questions about growing chinese wolfberry previously. Please see:

http://www.richters.com/qa-search.cgi?search=wolfberry

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