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Article: Superfruit ~ Goji Berry, Lycium barbarum: They are invasive

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Forum: Article: Superfruit ~ Goji Berry, Lycium barbarumReplies: 5, Views: 73
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Waterford, CA

February 26, 2009
2:54 PM

Post #6192785

I had never read, nor do I find even now online, anything about the plants being invasive. But they send up from the roots, starting on the second season, new plants up from the roots, and here the roots spread out at least 10 feet by the end of their first season. Now the entire back portion of my back yard has been over taken, and I have to take them out, and if I want some, I will have to plant them in containments, I guess much like other root invasive spreading plants.

Wolf berry is reported to have a far higher ORAC number, but they don't taste very good as fresh fruits, compared to Goji berries, which are very pleasant to eat, nice flavor and sweetness. Where as the Wolf berries are not very sweet and are actually bitter, at least the strain I have. If some one has a strain that is not, that would be interesting to know.

My Goji berry plants, are busy upright, with small thick grayish green leaves, no real thorns, but poky like forms, like on Pomegranates and the fruit is more orange colored, where Wolf berry is more red looking. Wolf berry is more vining and needs supports like a grape, and its canes have some fairly long nasty very shape thorns.

Wolf berry leaves are softer, somewhat larger then Goji and prone to mildew, and here in this part of CA, don't fully loose their leaves in in temps into the mid to high 20s. Where as the Goji plants fully defoliate in early winter, late fall.


Mount Laurel, NJ
(Zone 7a)

February 27, 2009
12:42 AM

Post #6195402

Hi David, your comments are very interesting.

I am checking into it now. This could be a concern for the nurseries that are selling Goji plants. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service lists 22 species of Lycium. I mentioned two species in my article that are said to be where marketed Goji Berries come from. It is confusing to call them 'Wolfberries', but they are also known as Wolfberries; so Wolfberries and Goji berries are the same thing.

There is another completely different plant called Western Snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis), that is also known as Wolfberry, however it is not related. This plant may be a noxious weed or invasive, and plant parts may be poisonous if ingested.

As for the Goji invasive issue, It looks like you might be on to something...
According to the USDA - Goji Berry, Lycium chinese Mill. (Chinese desert-thorn) is not listed as being invasive whereas, it looks like, Lycium barbarum L (matrimony vine) may be a noxious weed or invasive plant!!! The good news is that usually when a plant is really invasive they list the particular states and say if it is quarantined, a noxious weed, etc. - for L. barbarum no states are listed.

Thank you for your post. I sent a message to the grower I interviewed. I'll keep you posted if I get any more info.

On this USDA link, click on the green P next to the species for more information about it.

Thank you for your comments,


Mount Laurel, NJ
(Zone 7a)

March 4, 2009
2:58 PM

Post #6220065

Related comments...

Check out - "Fresh Fruit Taste" - topic started by Krowten. Krowten lives on the East Coast, in PA, and commented about Goji shrubs growth habit too.
Waterford, CA

July 26, 2010
9:25 AM

Post #7997948

I finely had to eliminate the Wolf and Goji berries from my back yard, they were taking over. Cut them down to the ground and then sprayed Roundup to fix it, they are apparently very sensitive to it, killed them out. The back end of my yard was a massive Brier patch more or less, covering and area around 35 x 25 feet and 6 plus feet tall.


Mount Laurel, NJ
(Zone 7a)

July 26, 2010
6:57 PM

Post #7999048

Sounds like you had a monster...we got a fizzler...our Goji died and a buddleia, butterfly bush popped up in its spot, so I let it grow there...

good luck with the back end of your yard
Kensington, NY

May 26, 2013
4:52 PM

Post #9535024

I note with interest this thread is dated 2010. I am in zone 7a also and about to order a Lycium to vine alone the side fence in Brooklyn, NY. I will watch it. I would hate to have to use Roundup!
Hate it like poison, so to speak..

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