Lycium barbarum

Lycium barbarum

The Lycium barbarum (Lycium barbarum L., 1753) is a shrub species belonging to the Solanaceae family and is one of the two species of Lycium with red fruits that are called Goji berries.

Systematics –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Subarranean Tracheobionta, Spermatophyta Superdivision, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Sottoclasse Asteridae, Order Solanales, Family Solanaceae and then to the Lycium Genus and to the L. Barbarum Species.

Etymology –
The term Lycium has been used since it originated in Lycia, a historical region of Asia Minor. The specific epithet barbarum is used in reference to a foreigner, a foreigner. The name goji was created in 1973 by the North American ethnobotanist Bradley Dobos.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Lycium barbarum is a species native to the temperate regions of China (Gansu, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shanxi, Sichuan, Xinjiang) and has naturalized in central and northern Europe, for example in Germany and Sweden.

Description –
Lycium barbarum is the plant from which goji berries are made. It is a perennial shrub that can even exceed two and a half meters in height. The tree has green or gray-green ovate leaves and pale purple bell-shaped flowers. At the end of the summer the tree produces bright red fruits. The taste of these berries is similar to blueberry or dark cherry.

Cultivation –
Lycium barbarum is a rustic plant that adapts to living in any type of terrain. To obtain a regular flowering and fruiting, it is better to choose neutral or slightly acid soils. This plant can be grown in the garden or on the balcony of the house. The tree tends to grow with vertical bearing giving, especially during flowering and fructification, an excellent aesthetic yield. For the specific cultivation technique, the following sheet can be consulted.

Uses and Traditions –
The Lycium barbarum is one of the two species of Lycium with red fruits from which the known fruits are obtained with the name of Goji berries; the other species is the Lycium chinense. Between the two the Lycium barbarum is the one most rich in vitamins, mineral salts and antioxidants and is famous in Asia for its berries, counted in the Chinese pharmacopoeia. Some studies in mice have shown that goji berries enhance the body’s antioxidant capacity as demonstrated by the rise of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) enzymes. The antioxidant activity was found to be comparable to that of vitamin C. Growing the plant regularly, you will get tasty goji berries to eat fresh or dried. The ideal dose for wellness and energy is about 15 grams of berries a day.
In general, goji berries have purifying and protective properties for the skin, have a tonic, aphrodisiac, antiseptic action, are strongly antioxidants, act as cicatrizing and immunostimulant, improve vision, have a re-epithelizing, hypoglycemic and hypotensive effect.

Preparation Mode –
In addition to eating fresh or dried goji berries lend themselves to some preparations in the kitchen. In addition to being eaten fresh or dried you can prepare recipes in which they are first soaked in water as is done with raisins. Goji berries can also be used shakes extracting the juice, after having soaked them, to add to smoothies and cold drinks. Finally they can also be infused to get a hot drink.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.




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