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Lycium barbarum - L.

Common Name Goji, Box Thorn, Matrimony vine
Family Solanaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards Although no records of toxicity have been seen, some caution should be exercised with this species, particularly with regard to its edible leaves, since it belongs to a family that often contains toxins. However, use of the leaves is well documented and fairly widespread in some areas. The unripe fruit might also be suspect though the ripe fruit is wholesome.
Habitats Hedges, on walls and waste ground[17].
Range Original habitat is obscure but probably S.E. Europe to S.W. Asia. Naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Lycium barbarum Goji, Box Thorn, Matrimony vine

Lycium barbarum Goji, Box Thorn, Matrimony vine


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Lycium barbarum commonly known as wolfberry and now better known as goji berry is a deciduous Shrub growing to 2.5 m (8ft) at a medium rate. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked. The fruit is a berry about 2cm in diameter. It has a mild sweet liquorice flavour. Only the fully ripe fruits should be eaten. Young shoots are cooked and used mainly as a flavouring. They can also be lightly cooked for 3 - 4 minutes and used as a vegetable, the flavour is somewhat cress-like but has also been described as peppermint-like. The leaves wilt rapidly once they have been harvested. The leaves are a tea substitute. Lycium barbarum has been used for centuries in China as a traditional medicinal and food supplement.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Lycium barbarum is a deciduous Shrub growing to 2.5 m (8ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


L. barbarum var. auranticarpum K.F.Ching, L. barbarum var. chinense (Mill.) Aiton

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves  Shoots
Edible Uses: Tea

Fruit - raw or cooked[2, 105, 146]. The fruit is a berry about 2cm in diameter[200, 206]. A mild sweet liquorice flavour[206]. Only the fully ripe fruits should be eaten[K]. Young shoots - cooked[2, 46, 85, 105]. Used mainly as a flavouring, they can also be lightly cooked for 3 - 4 minutes and used as a vegetable, the flavour is somewhat cress-like but has also been described as peppermint-like[206]. The leaves wilt rapidly once they have been harvested[206]. Some caution is advised, see notes at top of the page. The leaves are a tea substitute[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Anticholesterolemic  Antipyretic  Cancer  Diuretic  Hypoglycaemic  Ophthalmic  Purgative  
Skin  Tonic  Vasodilator

A sweet tonic decoction made from the fruits is used to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels[238]. It acts mainly on the liver and kidneys[61, 176, 238]. The fruit is taken internally in the treatment of high blood pressure, diabetes, poor eyesight, vertigo, lumbago, impotence and menopausal complaints[238]. The fruit is harvested when fully ripe and is dried for later use[238]. The root bark is a bitter, cooling, antibacterial herb that controls coughs and lowers fevers, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels[61, 176, 238]. It is taken internally in the treatment of chronic fevers, internal haemorrhages, nosebleeds, tuberculosis, coughs, asthma etc[238]. It is applied externally to treat genital itching[238]. The bark is harvested in the winter and dried for later use[238]. Diuretic, purgative, [61, 176]. The plant has a long history of medicinal use, both as a general, energy restoring tonic and also to cure a wide range of ailments from skin rashes and eyesight problems to diabetes[206]. A tonic tea is made from the leaves[206]. The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers[214].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Hedge  Hedge  Soil stabilization

Can be grown as an informal hedge, succeeding in maritime exposure[59, 200]. Plants have an extensive root system and can be planted to stabilize sandy banks[200, 206].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Hedge  Hedge

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, it does not require a rich soil, flowering and fruiting better in a well-drained soil of moderate quality[1, 200]. Succeeds in impoverished soils[200], but more fertile soils are best if the plant is being grown for its edible young shoots[206]. Requires a sunny position[200]. Some plants at Kew are growing well in light shade[K]. Tolerates maritime exposure[11, 49, 200]. Plants are hardy to about -15°c[202]. There are some named varieties, selected for their ornamental value[206]. Plants are very tolerant of pruning and can regrow from old wood[202]. Any trimming is best carried out in the spring[188]. Plants produce suckers freely and can become invasive when in a suitable position. Otherwise they can be difficult to establish[202]. There is much confusion over the naming of this species. Most, if not all, of the plants being grown as L. chinense or L. europaeum are in fact this species[11]. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is suckering with new plants from underground runners away from the plant [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse. Germination is usually good and fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Pinch out the shoot tips of the young plants in order to encourage bushy growth[78]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel if possible, July/August in individual pots in a frame. Good percentage[78]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, autumn to late winter in a cold frame. High percentage[78, 200]. Division of suckers in late winter. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. Layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Chinese matrimony vine, Chirchitta, Chirmethi, Duke of Argyle's teaplant, Ganger, Gangro, Goji berry, Gou qi zi, Kangu, Khatai, Kichar, Kutyafa, Licium, Morali, Ning xia gou qi, Wolfberry. Also known as: Baies de Goji, Baies de Lycium, Barberry Matrimony Vine, Chinese Boxthorn, Di Gu Pi, Digupi, Épine du Christ, Fructus Lycii, Fructus Lycii Berry, Fruit de Lycium, Goji, Goji Berry, Goji Chinois, Goji de l’Himalaya, Goji Juice, Gou Qi Zi, Gouqizi, Jus de Goji, Kuko, Lichi, Licium Barbarum, Litchi, Lychee, Lyciet, Lyciet Commun, Lyciet de Barbarie, Lycii Berries, Lycii Fruit, Lycium Fruit, Matrimony Vine, Ning Xia Gou Qi.

Africa, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Britain, China, Europe, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Mediterranean, Mongolia, Morocco, North Africa, North America, South America, Spain, Tasmania, Turkey, USA,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Berberis lycium Shrub3.0 5-9 MLMHSNDM331
Lycium afrum Shrub2.0 8-11  LMHNDM123
Lycium andersoniiWolfberry, Water jacketShrub0.0 0-0  LMHNDM122
Lycium arabicum Shrub0.0 -  LMHNM122
Lycium australe Shrub1.0 -  LMHNDM122
Lycium berlandieriBerlandier's wolfberryShrub0.0 0-0  LMHNDM122
Lycium carolinianumChristmas Berry, Carolina desert-thornShrub1.5 7-10  LMHNM323
Lycium chinenseChinese Boxthorn, Chinese desert-thornShrub2.5 5-9 MLMHNM433
Lycium europaeumEuropean tea-tree, Box thorn,Shrub4.0 8-11  LMHNM323
Lycium fremontiiDesert Thorn, Fremont's desert-thornShrub3.0 0-0  LMHNDM122
Lycium pallidumPale Wolfberry, Pale desert-thorn, Rabbit thornShrub1.8 5-9  LMHNDM323
Lycium ruthenicum Shrub2.0 5-9  LMHNDM323
Lycium schweinfurthii Shrub2.0 -  LMHNDM222
Lycium torreyiSquawthorn, Torrey wolfberryShrub3.0 0-0  LMHNDM222

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Leo Aerts   Fri Nov 9 2007

I live in Flanders-Belgium Europe. In Dutch this berry is known as boksdoorn. In German it is Bocksdorn. In Flanders-Belgium as in the Netherlands are several plantnurserys who sell Boksdoornplants.

Andrew   Wed Jul 6 22:36:17 2005

Another common name for this is Himalayan goji berry. Goji berry juice is promoted as a health drink.

Terrence Machin   Tue Nov 15 2005

Hi, I'am a horticulturist based in Australia. I'am really interested in purchasing seed of the Lycium barbarum (Himalayan Goji Berry) could any one point me in the right direction. My email # [email protected] or my address is 20 Koorana Road, Picton, NSW, Australia 2571. My name is Terrence Machin

Ken Jones   Sat Jun 24 2006

Would very much appreciate page numbers for the relevant sections on Lycium barbarum in both of the following references cited here: Bean W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray 1981 Matthews. V. The New Plantsman. Volume 1, 1994. Royal Horticultural Society 1994 ISBN 1352-4186 Thank you, Ken Jones [email protected]

Klaus B. Angermann   Thu Jul 20 2006

I disagree with the hardiness of Zone 7: This species grows fine in South Germany at elevations up to 500-600m, where late frost until May and harsh frost during winter time (below -20°C) is common. So I'd say a zone 6 classification seems more appropriate here.

   Mon Sep 11 2006

Very interesting. I would like to purchase the seeds to enable me to grow the fruit.

Steve Sanderson   Wed Oct 4 2006

If you can buy the berries you don`t need to buy the seed. Place a hand full of berries in a glass of water overnight and the berries will plump up. in the morning cut open the berries and scrape out the seed. leave to dry for a few hours. sow the seed as normal, just covering with compost and within a week and a half they will be growing. I`ve tried it and got at least 70% germination.

sonny parker   Sat Oct 7 2006

I have been told that Himilayan Goji juice has worked on patients with kidney failure. I have friends that are sleeping better and some friends have lost their age spots while taken goji for less than 10 days.

Gae   Fri Oct 27 2006

I have just started eating the berries and have noticed an improvement in my psoriasis already!

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future.   Mon Oct 30 2006

This species is, undoubtedly, a very valuable food and medicinal plant. There has been considerable discussion on its health benefits on this page and I think the time has come to end the discussion at this point. As moderator, therefore, I will not accept any more posts relating to the health benefits of this plant unless they bring forward substantially new information.

Kate Coyle   Wed Dec 13 2006

The anecdotal comments about the medicinal value of Lycium barbarum raise several questions in my mind. 1)Why is there a multi-level marketing scheme promoting the "health" values of this plant? 2) where is the recognised, scientific testing for the claims which are being made? 3) What are the ethics of promoting a product as "able to combat the effects of chemotherapy", and where is the proof? We have had "snake-oil" salesmen down the ages. Just ask the person that sells you goji juice how much do they make from their direct distributor chain. It costs $35.00 to join this multilevel marketing company. And that's the only hard fact available. Kate Coyle

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future.   Fri Dec 15 2006

There has actually been quite a lot of research into the medicinally active constituents of this plant. It has been used traditionally in China and other countries for over 2,000 years and modern research has shown it to have many beneficial effects upon the body. Unfortunately, there are always some people who view plants like this as a means of making lots of money. I would never buy herbal products from a multilevel marketing company. If you go to a traditional herbalist you will be able to buy the fruits at a much more reasonable price - I use them and pay a fraction of the price that some commercial companies are charging. If anyone would like an unbiased medicinal information sheet on this plant, then please email me through the website.

John Couture, Quebec   Thu Jan 11 2007

John Thur Jan 11, 2007 Do you know Ken that pure Goji juice is rare? I am making a study right now on the differents brands available on the market and I have found out that most of the products are mixed with fruit juice. One company in the U.S mix their Wolfberry Juice with 7 differents fruits like: blueberry,cherry,apricot,peach,pear,etc. and they dare call it pure wolfberry juice. So always read the label before you buy.

Lisa   Tue Jan 16 2007

My mother and I have been on Goji juice for the past 4 months (freelife) when my mother went for her heart ultrasound I was hoping it would show an improvement after 4 months of goji juice but we were told it had worsened - I was disappointed - that been said, my mother still thought that she had felt better overall but inexplicably came down with shingles in the left eye while on goji juice, then got parotisis of the left side of the face (infected saliva gland), then 3 weeks later infected saliva gland on right side of face. Now today she has been diagnosed with cellulitis (bacterial infection) on a leg vein. She stopped taking goji juice about 1 week ago. Sometimes I wonder if she would have been in a worse state without goji? But it was disappointing to see all these physical complaints whilst taking it. Her 24 hr migraines from shingles in the left eye is still as bad as it was 12 weeks ago when it started, Her eyelid at first swelled up with (fluid) to the size of a golf ball, this was 3 months ago and she had been on goji for 2 months prior?? Im not knocking the goji juice as I had great results with digestion by using it and it managed to stop my stomach related migraines within an hour or two - but the price of it in Australia is too much for my budget and I have no intention of signing up with the company to get a discount. If you want to taste goji berries then go to an Asian store and ask them as most of them have them dried in packets for very cheap prices. I used to buy packets and soak some in water overnight and then use them in meat dishes like mince patties with onions, eggs, breadcrumbs and grated apple - they always tasted good. Alternatively you can usually buy the seeds off Ebay as some of the other juice makers sell seeds as well - anyway i know the Australian juice maker does. Goodluck.

Maureen Thomas.   Wed Feb 7 2007

I was given some dried goji berries and I soaked a couple in water overnight ight then scrapedthem onto some damp compost and putthem in a warm place. They only took about three days to shoot and are now coming on quite well try it for yourself. Easy and cheap.

Victoria   Thu May 10 2007

In the UK Thompson + Morgan offer plants of these + I would like to grow some on my allotment / in the garden. Does anyone know if the fruit can be frozen - just in case I'll end up with a glut of them...???

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Sun May 13 2007

The traditional way of storing the fruit is to dry it like raisins. The dried fruit is quite tasty and retains virtually all of the micronutrients that give the fruit its unique medicinal qualities. I often eat the dried fruit, either on its own or mixed with a cereal such as rice or porridge. The fruit can also be frozen, and should still retain its nutritional qualities, though I do not know how nice it will taste when thawed. I have always found, for instance, that raspberries have gone mushy after freezing them and I feel the same will happen with Lycium.

Eric Hanson   Mon Dec 18 2006

I understand all fruit production occurs in China. Are these fruit produced commercially using cultivars that are propagated vegetatively (cuttings) or are they all grown from seed? If I want to grow the plant, should I find superior cultivars or simply germinate seeds and grow what results?

Mike Longo   Wed Feb 21 2007

I'm interested in growing giji in my garden here in NJ, USA. Has anyone used the frash fruit at home? Can it be eaten fresh? Juiced with a conventional home juicer? Dried with a home fruit drier? Thanks. Mike

m gaffey   Mon Apr 2 2007

G`day i`m a rare plant collector of sorts and i`m having trouble locating barbarum plant/seed to add to my collection could you pass on any information regarding obtaining these in Australia? thanks,mark.

rick walker   Sun Apr 29 2007


   Sat Jun 30 2007

There are a number of articles on PubMed regarding l. barbarum if anybody is interested in reading them. Simply type in "lycium barbarum" in the search box.

dechen   Tue Aug 7 2007

how is it possible to get goji seed in Bhutan as i am not able to find a goji plant here in the himalayas let me know

Susanna Clymo   Wed Aug 15 2007

Can anyone tell me if this plant has thorns? I am thinking of planting it as part of a protective hedge along an allotment that gets run on by dogs.... In Oman, I illustrated Lycium shawii for a book about medicinal plants and it was extremely thorny, difficult to collect and handle. Actually, I have answered my own question by looking it up in the RHS Dictionary of Gardening, but add it here in case it is useful. It apparently makes a "thorny and impenetrable barrier" and responds very well to clipping and is easy to grow but throws up lots of suckers.

Barry   Tue Sep 4 2007

Barry Mannum Common Name ?? Box Thorn??? Box Thorn is a declared weed in South Australia. An extremly thorny shrub used as a hedge on farms in England instead of a fence. Is this the same plant?? Goji Berry??

Barry   Wed Sep 5 2007

Hi I have done a little more reseach Boxthorn (African Boxthorn) "Lycium ferrocissimum " is the boxthorn that is a declared plant here in South Australia. Do these berries have any use? Regards Barry

Malcolm Dowling   Sat Nov 24 2007

Great site! I have been taking Himalayan Goji juice for 4 months now. I am 46years old. I have just had a full blood count done and the doctor was astounded that every reading was absolutely perfect. Also, my cholesterol reading had come down considerably. I run 10km several times a week, something I couldnt do at 26! My 15 year old son has had eczema in the creases of his arms a behind his knees since he was a child. I have tried all sorts of creams and potions and nothing has cured the eczema. I got my son to take, 60mls of HG juice morning and night.On the tenth day The previously crusty, broken skinned eczema, had completely disappeared. " Snake Oil", no way. to all the skeptics out there...take your blinkers off, open your minds and hearts. I have a farmyard animal business too and have not been to a vet for any animal related illness since I started using HG juice as a treatment and preventative.

Karma Phuntsho   Thu Dec 6 2007

thank you so much for the web site, infact i am a medicinal plant researcher working on cultivation of wild medicinal plants for domestication. I work for the farmers who have low income generation source, inorder to give then an opportunity for other source of income to sustain their livehood. I would be very grateful if you could provide the details of agronomic practices to grow this plants. To give you some background, i hail from Bhutan and the place where i am doing this research is at an elevation of 2750msal. Your suggestion and support in this matter will help me to a greater exted. Thank you Karma Phuntsho MAP RNRRC, Yusipang Thimphu Bhutan

Abayomi   Tue Jan 15 2008

I have grown this plant from seeds bought in Chinatown NY, USA and after a year and a half all of a sudden thorns began to appear. They do not look especially sharp but there are LOTS of them. This plant will need to be carefully placed.

Leo Aerts   Wed Jan 16 2008

In November I Bought some plants in pots. Two where not yet pruned as usual, but where a bit bushy. Till today i succeeded to take about 30 cutlings. They are all beautiful with small green leaves now. I intend to create a bushy garden as a labyrinth, made from Lycium, mixed also with Hippophae rhamnoides and Zizyphus Jujube (still looking for). Also I have already Chaenomeles japonica 'Cido'. In my own little garden, I cultivate since some years Rubus phoenicolasius. Nowadays I made a lease contract with the Belgian Railway Company for a nice peace of land of about 500 sq meters, and thats where I intend to make my labyrint.

Dr. Paul Gross   Fri May 23 2008

Much of the public information on Lycium barbarum L. is distorted by the fraud perpetrated by non-scientist marketers like Earl Mindell. The article on Wikipedia sets the record straight, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goji which includes a video that should be watched by anyone interested in the potential health benefits of the wolfberry fruit. Much of what the public knows, unfortunately, comes from fabrications by Mindell and marketers of Himalayan Goji Juice. There is also available a reporter's story presenting his view after searching through Tibet for this plant which -- to no surprise of anyone understanding Tibetan geography and agriculture -- cannot grow in significant quantity or quality in Tibet, http://wolfberry.org/documents/ParryFruitlessSearchforGoji12-06.pdf

Joey   Tue Sep 2 2008

Anybody knows where I can buy goji seeds here in Philippines?

   Sat Sep 13 2008

can we grow goji here in the philippines? please answer me i want to grow also.

Charmaine   Mon Sep 29 2008

Hi, Im Charmaine from the Philippines. I'm also collecting rare herbal, medicinal plants plants and berries.I wonder if we can buy these goji berries/wolfberries in Chinatown here.I recently went to Singapore and bought many cookbooks there.I noticed that the wolfberry is always present in many of the recipes.Too bad though, I didnt know at that time that goji and wolfberry are one and the same plant specie.I could have bought some probably in the groceries of Singapore.Can anyone tell me if these berries can be bought here in the Philippines? I really want to extract the seeds and plant them too. thanks.

Jose Teixeira   Fri Oct 3 2008

I have grown this plant in Portugal from seeds of Lycium barbarum dried Berries one year later the plant is 1 meter tall. I live 1 Km away from Atlantic Ocean in Portugal

Catherine Lee   Thu Jan 29 2009

from what I know in use of goji berry not everyone is suitable to take it for everyday. It depend on your body, some can feel unwell after taking too much goji berry. So it is very important to know more about how we should use it. The whole goji berry plant is also use in chinese medicine but one must know how to use it right.

Dirk   Thu Feb 26 2009

Hello, I am looking for Lycium-seeds to plant this fruit in my garden. Who knows a dealer in Belgium, The Netherlands or west/central Europe? Thank you! [email protected]

David   Thu Feb 26 2009

If you don't have any luck, I've grown them from the seed inside the small red fruit sold in packets in Chinese Food shops here in New Zeland, imported from China.The same packets might be available where you are. It was a while back I don't recall what they were called on the packet, Wolfberries probably. . The plants didn't live long but that was probably my difficult site. (Apparently Lycium barbarum is the same as Lycium chinense (Bown 1995))

Gaardenier   Fri Apr 24 2009

In Mortsel, Flanders/belgium there is a yearly plantexchange, around end of April. Plenty of several different species of Goji available, seedlings and rooted cutlings are plenty available. For more info: [email protected]

Patricia Brown   Thu Jun 18 2009

I got two goji bushes this year from a friend. I have eateb the fruit but am not sure how to tell when it is fuuly ripe. How do I make juice? How do I extract the seeds. Pat brown [email protected]

Linacre Griffiths   Sun Aug 30 2009

I found wolf berry growing in Edmonton, Alberta which is zone 3! In Canada and USa it can be bought from Richter's Herbs in Ontario. Thanks to your web site i hope to start seedlings from both the seeds I picked up from below the plant i found and from seeds purchased as goji berries

   Nov 21 2014 12:00AM

Goji is very easy to grow. Simply get some berries from a health food store, an asian market or online and soak them for a few hours in warm water. Scrape out the seeds and rinse them off. They should sprout within a few days (3-5). Plant them in well draining soil for an easy plant to grow. Start them indoors in a sunny window and transplant out to the garden as soon as spring starts warming up outside. You might get berries that first summer, but probably not until they've grown for a little while. I can not attest to the nutritive value of the berries, but they do have a pleasant flavor. If you want a 'superfood', try moringa.

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Subject : Lycium barbarum  
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