[size=75]From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [/size]
Wolfberry is the common name for the fruit of two very closely related species: Lycium barbarum (Chinese: 寧夏枸杞; pinyin: Níngxià gǒuqǐ) and L. chinense (Chinese: 枸杞; pinyin: gǒuqǐ), two species of boxthorn in the family Solanaceae (which also includes the potato, tomato, eggplant, deadly nightshade, chili pepper, and tobacco). Although its original habitat is obscure (probably southeastern Europe to southwest Asia), wolfberry species are now grown around the world, primarily in China.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture Germplasm Resources Information Network, it is also known as Chinese wolfberry, goji berry, barbary matrimony vine, bocksdorn, cambronera, Duke of Argyll’s tea tree, or matrimony vine. Unrelated to the plant’s geographic origin, the names Tibetan goji and Himalayan goji are in common use in the health food market for products from this plant.
Known in Asia as an extremely nutritious food, wolfberries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for at least 2,000 years (Gross et al., 2006). Their undocumented legend, however, is considerably older, as wolfberries are often linked in Chinese lore to Shen Nung (Shennong), China’s legendary First Emperor, mythical father of agriculture, and herbalist who lived circa 2,800 BC.
Since the early 21st century in the United States and other such developed countries, there has been rapidly growing recognition of wolfberries for their nutrient richness and antioxidant qualities, with 89 new product introductions during 2006-7 in eight retail market segments (not including the larger commercial area of network marketing) having $9.2 million in total sales. Such rapid commercial development includes wolfberry having the highest overall ranking among a novel category of six exotic “superfruits” expected to be part of a double-digit, billion dollar growth market in coming years.
Wolfberry species are deciduous woody perennial plants, growing 1-3 m high. L. chinense is grown in the south of China and tends to be somewhat shorter, while L. barbarum is grown in the north, primarily in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and tends to be somewhat taller.
The botanical division named to the upper right, Magnoliophyta, identifies plants that flower and the class Magnoliopsida represents flowering plants (Dicotyledons) with two embryonic seed leaves called cotyledons appearing at germination.
The order Solanales names a perennial plant with five-petaled flowers that are more or less united into a ring at the base; well-known members of the order include morning glory, bindweed, and sweet potato as well as the plants of the Solanaceae, mentioned below.