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Lycium europaeum is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 4.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
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.
S.W. Europe to the Mediterranean.
In Israel it grows in Mediterranean maquis, batha communities, and loessial wadis in the steppes areas.
An easily grown plant, it does not require a rich soil, flowering and fruiting better in a well-drained soil of moderate quality[
]. Succeeds in impoverished soils[
]. Requires a sunny position[
]. Tolerates maritime exposure[
This species is not very hardy in Britain, it tolerates temperatures down to about -5°c and succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of the country[
There is much confusion between this species and the closely related L. barbarum and L. chinense. Most, if not all, of the plants being grown as L. europaeum in Britain are in fact L.barbarum[
]. Many botanists unite the three species under the name L. barbarum, though they are distinct[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. The fruit is a berry about 8mm in diameter[
]. Only the fully ripe fruits should be eaten[
Young shoots - cooked[
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[
Plants have an extensive root system and can be planted to stabilize banks[
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[
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel if possible, mid summer in individual pots in a frame. Good percentage[
Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, autumn to late winter in a cold frame. High percentage[
Division of suckers in late winter. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.