Wolfberry is the name given to the Chinese and European variety of the Goji berry. It actually goes by many other names and has more than 100 species. The Lyceum Barbarum Wolfberry is the most popular species of this plant. It is the best tasting one and is used for making Goji juice and for medicinal uses in Asia and India.
The Wolfberry is a shrub that can grow up to 10 feet with trailing vines spreading to up to 20 feet. In China it is cultivated in large plantations for commercial use. These commercial farms use conventional chemical methods to grow the Wolfberry and protect it from insect damage. The largest growing area is the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, in Northern China. This is where they grow the Lyceum Barbarum Wolfberry. This species was originally taken from Tibet and the Himalayan region.
Other varieties of this plant can be found growing wild in various parts of the world including the UK. It is known as the Wolfberry and also has other names, like The Box Thorn Fruit and The Matrimony Vine Fruit. This plant grows wild in the cooler parts of Europe and Asia.
In Tibet and Inner Mongolia the Wolfberry is known as the Goji Berry. It is one of the protected medicinal plants in this area. Because of its use as a medicine plant the Wolfberry is grown organically there with no additional chemicals. The areas it grows in are labeled as “wild places” and are relatively untouched by urban development. An organization Co-op for the Goji farmers that ensures they get fair prices and help continue growing Wolfberry plants, was created in 1975. The Tanaduk Institute has also helped to protect the medicinal plants grown in this region. Several monasteries in India also grow medicinal plants including the Wolfberry. They are grown organically here and are sold on a limited basis.
The plants are quite easy to grow and can be started from seed. The seeds take around 7 days to germinate. The Wolfberry can also be cultivated from roots. It is resistant to drought and can withstand temperatures of -15 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. The Wolfberry prefers light soil for optimum growth but will grow in any soil. Ideally the plant prefers full sunlight but will also grow in partial shade.
You can cultivate The Wolfberry in containers. If you do this, you need to hand pollinate the Wolfberry flowers, to get the fruit. The fruits are quite vulnerable to insect damage so you should take steps to protect the plants when they are producing fruit. The Wolfberry plants begin to bear fruit from the age of 1 year and will produce heavy crops when they are between 4 and 5 years old. They start to bloom in early summer and develop fruit in late summer. The Wolfberry will continue to bear fruit until the first severe frost. The best way to get the maximum health benefits from this plant is to try to grow it naturally without chemicals, herbicides or insecticides.