What are goji berries and are they the same as wolfberries?

What are goji berries and are they the same as wolfberries?

There is a lovely little red berry that grows all over the world and people in different places call it by different names. Many English speakers call it Wolfberry, and today even more English speakers call it Goji Berry. But it’s really the same thing.

As we all know, science gives two Latin names to every botanical organism, genus and species. Two plants that are even slightly different from each other have different kinds of names. Thus, if two plants have the same genus and species names, they are the same plant. People may call them by different names, but that does not change the fact that they are actually the same thing.

The Goji Berry/Wolfberry plant, whose genus is Lycium, has two closely related species. One species is known as Barbarum and the other is Chinensis. Both species grow in many places on earth.

Since people in different countries tend to speak different languages, it is not surprising that the Chinese and Tibetans do not call these fruits wolf fruits. China has many dialects. The plant is often called gǒuqǐ and the fruit is called gǒuqǐzi (zi means “berry”.) “Goji” is a simplified pronunciation of gǒuqǐ.

A similar word can be found in other languages. For example, in Korea the berry is called gugija, and in Thailand it is known as găo gè. Tibetan has many names for the fruit, including qouki, qou ki ji, quak qou, kew ji, and kew ki. In Japanese, the plant is called kuko, and the fruit is known as kuko no mi or kuko no kaitsu.

Around 1973, the word “Goji” was first used in English so that English speakers could have a word for this berry that was similar to these Asian words. Since then, the word “Goji” has been used by many marketers as the fruit has appeared in more and more health food stores in the US. The new word “Goji” is already being used quite often.

It is not entirely clear where the word “wolfberry” originated. One theory is that it comes from the place name “Lycia”, the ancient name of Anatolia, in Turkey, and “Lycia” can be heard in the name Lycium Barbarum. “Barbarum” means that the wolfberry plant may have come from somewhere else, like China, originally.

But that doesn’t explain why it has the word “wolf” in it. Thus, another possibility is that Lycium Barbarum comes from the Greek word “Lycos” or wolf. Wolves do eat berries and other fruits to get the fiber they need in their diet. They also eat tomatoes, whose Latin name means “wolf peach” (Solanum lycopersicum). The word “lycos” or wolf can be seen in Latin.

The tomato genus (Solanum) contains another species, lycocarpum, which translates as wolf apple. This medium-sized yellow tomato is not familiar to many of us because it grows in South America. South American wolves eat them! This is not the same plant as the tomatoes we are used to in North America. What do I want to say? I come to this…

Goji berries and wolfberries are from the Solanaceae family, as are tomatoes! Nightshades are an important source of food and spices. Types of nightshades include potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, chilies (Capsicum), deadly nightshade (Beladonna), Datura (Jimson Weed), tobacco, mandrake, lupine and many others.

Many of the species in this important food family are used to make herbal medicines by indigenous peoples around the world. Some of them have psychoactive properties. Goji berry is legendary as a medicinal plant and has been used as such for many centuries in many countries.

Goji berries and lupines have many other names such as coneflower, duke of argyle tea tree, wedding vine, boxthorn, cambronera, Chinese wolfberry and red medlar.

The point here is that Lycium Barbarum and Lycium Chinensis are two completely different species, two completely different plants. Many people proclaim different names for them. For example, they claim that “Tibetan Lycium Eleagnus Barbarum” is the TRUE Himalayan Gogi berry, even though it does not actually exist as a species.

There is no doubt that these two species have different medicinal and nutritional properties BECAUSE they are different species. Indeed, not only do different species differ from each other, but it is also true that all varieties of each species are somewhat different chemically and therefore nutritionally.

In some mountainous areas of Tibet and northern China, there is what is known as the “Goji Belt,” a fertile, high-altitude region where Goji plants are cultivated and grow wild. The “highest quality” Goji berries are produced in the best location and climate, which happens to be this Goji belt. This is due to the purity of the water and the mineral-rich soil that washes down from the high mountains.

The political struggle between Tibet and China is well known. There is also a Tibetan/Chinese political standoff over what defines the Goji Berry. From a western perspective, this is just confusing.

In addition, the name Tibet carries an undoubted mystique. Therefore, it is easy for Western marketers to take advantage of it by claiming the superiority of TIBETAN Goji berries over all others. But, as we have shown, from a scientific point of view, “Tibetan” Goji berries do not exist.

Tibet, a country that is more vertical than horizontal, mostly dry, barren and waterless, with few roads among the world’s highest mountains, is not known for agriculture. It is adjacent to China. Political boundaries really don’t matter to the land or the Goji plants; instead, as mentioned, soil and climate are the important factors in Chinese wolfberry and goji berry cultivation.

The highest quality berries have the highest levels of gluconutrients and are grown in the Ningxia and Xinjiang provinces of China, right in the Goji Belt. These areas have exceptional growing seasons, unusually alkaline soil, ample rainfall, and extreme temperature swings from 102 to -16 degrees F.

The Goji Belt produces four grades of Goji berries: Super, King, Special, and Grade A. The largest berries are “Super,” the second largest are “King,” and so on. You may find vendors advertising their berries as the largest, but they are still the same berry, Lycium Barbarum. That is, unless of course they are Lycium Chinensis.

Wolfberries, goji, they are great. It is easy for politicians and marketers to confuse and blow smoke all over a bushel of Goji berries or Goji juice. However, nothing detracts from the central fact that this unique little berry is the greatest nutritional powerhouse in the world!

#goji #berries #wolfberries

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