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goji berry confusion

Can anyone answer a question about Goji Berries? Recently I bought a bag of dried berries in Chinatown in San Francisco and though they are labeled Lycium berries they taste, look, smell, exactly like the fancy goji berries that I buy at Whole Foods except they were one third of the price.

What is the difference between the two? I glanced through wickipedia on the term ‘wolfberry’ and it leads me to believe that both are the same (also leads me to believe that it’s not the superfood that many people) however does anyone know the difference or is it just clever marketing on the part of the goji berry crowd.


  • As far I know, they are one and the same. I have seen people swear they are different, but I have a little botanical training and have compared both of them (the fruit anyway, not the flowers or leaves).

    The chinese ones are called ‘wolfberries’ and when I asked a chinese herbalist if they were the same as goji berries he laughed and said they were. I get the impression that the goji berries are a great marketing ploy.

    If they are indeed one and the same, the only difference would be in the processing. The wolfberries harvested from China would not be organic, and many areas of China have massive pollution problems, with many foods tainted by these pollutants, including heavy metals.

    Nowadays I have seen cheaper organic goji berries on sale in some supermarkets. Not sure what the production background to these brands are, but I imagine that gojis will start to get cheaper as production is increased and people cotton onto the fact that the super expensive brands can be out-competed in quality and price.

    But other more epxerienced people may know differently, so don’t take my word for it.

  • humanimalhumanimal Raw Newbie

    Most goji berries are just a scam. Some of the goji berries at Asian produce stores are treated with preservatives(primarily sulphur dioxide). Those are the ones you really must stay away from. Also our relationship with China isn’t too hot nowadays. Remember the toxic pet food? Yeah now the drugs and food imported from China are very dangerous and should be consumed with great caution. Again with the goji berries you really never know what conditions they produce them in. Hell even the pricey ones could be tainted which is quite sad :( What is interesting is that goji berries not only grow in China. Its not they have the only magical soil to produce them. Goji berries can also be found in parts of North America as well.

  • angie207angie207 Raw Newbie

    I got some “goji berries” from an Asian market, and I can’t stand to eat them – feels like they’re too polluted – I always feel good with the Sunfood brand. Thanks for answering that question; I guess I wish I could just grow them in my backyard :)

  • CarmentinaCarmentina Raw Newbie

    Lycium is another name for Goji berry. I agree that they don’t seem as miraculous as all the hype…

  • ardesmond2ardesmond2 Raw Newbie

    I some times wonder if this is because they are in there dried state. I have a goji berry plant growing in my garden as we speak, it has yet to mature but I can’t wait to try them fresh vs dried.

  • anngoingrawanngoingraw Raw Newbie

    The botanical name of goji berries is “lycium barbarum”


    so, i suppose that goji, wolf and lycium berries are the same thing.

  • daniefondaniefon Raw Newbie

    Ardesomd- I will be interested to hear how they are home grown! Did you find the plant or did you start from seed? I would love to try it. Also, what part of the country are you in? I am in North Texas, I am asking because I wonder if the growing conditions are the same. I have a huge garden and love to try new things.

  • ardesmond2ardesmond2 Raw Newbie

    I bought the plant online for 19.00 , it was about two inches tall. Its in my container garden section, and they are very easy to grow. They love sunlight, I water it with my prill water, and I swear when I wake up in the morning it has at least 15-20 more leave on it. If you grow them from seed it takes 3 years for them to mature.

  • daniefondaniefon Raw Newbie

    Thank you, I think I’ll order one!

  • i am a chinese herbalist, and they are indeed the same thing. however, getting organic Gou Qi Zi (the chinese name for Goji berries) from an Asian market might be super tough. As an herbalist (I ordered herbs for my own pharmacy straight from Taiwan) I always found it to be near impossible to find organic chinese herbs. There are a few sources, but they’re hard to find, and my guess is your local asian store does not pay attention to stuff like that.

  • I get my berries by planting my own blueberry plants. I just feel more comfortable eating berries that I grew on my own.

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