|Lycium chinense fruits|
Lycium chinense is one of two species of boxthorn in the family Solanaceae from which the goji berry or wolfberry is harvested, the other being Lycium barbarum. Two varieties are recognized, L. chinense var. chinense and L. chinense var. potaninii. It is grown in the south of China, while L. barbarum is grown in the north, primarily in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Wolfberry species are deciduous woody perennial plants, growing 1–3 m high, somewhat shorter than L. barbarum. The stems are highly branched. Branches are pale gray, slender, curved or pendulous, with thorns 0.5–2 cm long.
Lycium chinense leaves form on the shoot either solitary in an alternating arrangement or in bundles of 2 to 4. Their shape may be ovate, rombic, lanceolate, or linear-lanceolate, usually 1.5 to 5 cm long and 0.5 to 2.5 cm wide (but up to 10 cm long and 4 cm wide in cultivated plants).
The flowers grow in groups of one to three in the leaf axils, with pedicels 1 to 2 cm long. The bell-shaped or tubular calyx (eventually ruptured by the growing berry) splits halfway into short, triangular, densely ciliate lobes. The corollae is a tube that splits into lavender or light purple petals, 9–14 mm (0.35–0.55 in) wide with five or six lobes longer than the tube, with short hairs at the edge. The stamens are structured with filaments longer than the anthers, slightly shorter or longer than the corolla, with a villous ring slightly above the base and the adjacent corolla tube. The anthers are longitudinally dehiscent.
Fruit and seeds
Lycium chinense produces a bright orange-red berry, whose shape is ovoid or oblong, 7 to 15 mm long and 5 to 8 mm wide (but up to 22 mm long and 10 mm wide in cultivation). It contains compressed yellow seeds, from 2.5 to 3 mm wide, with a curved embryo; their number varies widely based on cultivar and fruit size, from 10 to 60. The berries ripen from July to October in the Northern Hemisphere.
The fruits may be infused with hot water to make goji tea. The plant is thought to be useful in traditional Chinese medicine for treating various disorders, although there is no scientific evidence that it has any medicinal properties.
The fruit's composition is similar to that of L. barbarum. Polysaccharides, carotenoids and flavonoids are the typical metabolites. Rutin is the main flavonoid. The main carotenoid is zeaxanthin dipalmitate (49% of the carotenoid fraction). The fruit further contains zeaxanthin, β-carotene, two cerebrosides, and three pyrrole derivatives.
Dozens of secondary metabolites have been isolated and identified from the roots, root bark and leaves, including cyclic peptides, alkaloids, and flavonoids. Citric acid is the major nonvolatile organic acid in the leaves followed by oxalic acid.
- "The Plant List: Lycium chinense var. chinense".
- "The Plant List: Lycium chinense var. potaninii".
- "Flora of China treatment for L. chinense".
- "Lycium chinense". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 10 January 2018.
- "Lycium chinense". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
- Olivier Potterat (2010). "Goji (Lycium barbarum and L. chinense): Phytochemistry, pharmacology and safety in the perspective of traditional uses and recent popularity". Planta Medica. 76 (1): 7–19. doi:10.1055/s-0029-1186218.
- Ai, Changshan (2002). Zhi Bu Liang Yi Hua Gou Qi (A Word About Lycium chinense, Effective for Therapy and Nutrition). Changchun, China: Jilin Ke Xue Ji Shu Chu Ban She. ISBN 7-5384-2402-4. ISBN 978-7-5384-2402-7.
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