Wolf berries vs goji berries
Goji Berry info

Wolf berries vs goji berries, what are the differences?

Perhaps you, like many other people believe goji and wolf berries are exactly the same thing. It\’s understandable, after all the two names are interchangeable – particularly commercially. However, if you are a curious goji berry buyer, then you have probably wondered why this fruit needs two names.

Here we will explore the differences between the goji berry and the wolf berry. We will also reveal if a name actually makes a difference, especially when it comes to the quality of the goji berry you buy.

Lycium chinense vs lycium barbarum

Although both goji berries and wolfberries can be called goji berries, there is a difference. Wolfberries refers specifically to the species called the Lycium chinense. However, the goji berry only refers to the Lycium barbarum species of the goji berry plant. Both plants are also known as:

  • Barbary matrimony vine
  • Chinese wolfberry,
  • Mede berry
  • Duke of Argyll’s tea tree
  • Red medlar
  • Bocksdorn
  • Matrimony vine and murali.

But to clarify the Lycium Barbarum and Lycium Chinensis are two completely different plants and two completely different species.

Goji berry names

As to why goji berries became the worldwide name for both species, there are a few theories. The obvious one is that as people worldwide don’t always speak the same language, different languages produce different names.


In Thailand goji berries are known as găo gè, while in Korea the berry is called gugija. Tibetan has many names for the berries, including qou k, qouki, quak qou, qou ki ji, kew ji, and kew ki. In Japan the plant is called kuko and the fruit is known as kuko no mi or kuko no kajitsu. But it’s China’s name for the goji berry, gǒuqǐ, that gave birth (as it were) to the name we know today.

Marketers realized how important it was for people to feel they were buying something authentic, so in 1973 the name “goji” began to appear in more and more natural foods stores around the U.S. In essence, “Goji” is just a simplified pronunciation of the word gǒuqǐ and is now the most widely used.

Where did the name wolf berries come from?

The name “wolfberry”, is an English one with unknown origin. There’s a theory that suggests this name came about because people mistakenly assumed that the Latin word for goji berry – Lycium, was derived from the Greek word lycos which means “wolf”.

Another theory suggest that wolfberry is not an English term at all, but one given to the berries in the 18th century by Chinese farmers. It is said that as the berries grew around the farmland, the farmers would see wolves come and eat the fruits off the vines. Since the wolves seemed to enjoy them, the farmers began to call the fruit wolfberries

Whatever the reasons behind the name wolfberry, it has stuck to this day. But as mentioned before, commercially the name wolfberry only refers to one species which is the Lycium Chinense

Wolfberries vs. Goji Berries

As we have established, Lycium Barbarum and Lycium Chinensis are two different plants. These two species have different nutritional and medicinal properties.

When it comes to Lycium Chinense vs Lycium Barum the type of goji makes the difference. It is important to know how to recognize and choose the right one. When we talk about goji berries we refer to the fruits of the Lycium Barbarum plant.


The scientific studies conducted on goji berries are specifically assigned to the Lycium Barbarum. It is this species that has the innumerable properties and benefits that are recognized to goji. This should never be confused with Lycium Chinense , which is often more sour and bitter and therefore less pleasant on the palate. While this species does have health benefits, they are inferior to the Lycium Barbarum.

Gojiberries, particularly the lycium Barbarum variety, are high in antioxidants, like carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. Gojiberries help protect the liver and improve fertility and sexual function. They are also a wonderful source of micronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats and dietary fiber.

Goji berry – Lycium Barbarum, rich in nutrients

Below are the nutrients you can expect to find in the Lycium Barbarum species of goji.

  • 21 trace minerals, such as germanium, an anti-cancer mineral that are rarely found in foods
  • Protein content that is higher than whole wheat (13 percent)
  • B-complex vitamins, essential for converting food into energy.
  • A rounde spectrum of anti-oxidant carotenoids, including beta-carotene (a better source than even carrots!) and zeaxanthin (protects the eyes). Goji berries are the richest source of carotenoids of all known foods.
  • Vitamin C – more than oranges.
  • Beta-Sitosterol, an anti-inflammatory agent – is used for treating sexual impotence and prostrate enlargement, it is also used for reducing cholesterol.
  • Vitamin E (this is extremely rare found in fruits, only in grains and seeds.
  • Essential fatty acids, good for hormone production and the smooth functioning of the brain and nervous system
  • Cyperone, this benefits the blood pressure and the heart, alleviates menstrual discomfort and has been used in the treatment of cervical cancer.
  • Solavetivone, a powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compound.
  • Betaine, which is used by the liver to produce choline a compound that calms nervousness, enhances memory, promotes muscle growth, and protects against fatty liver disease. Betaine helps to homocysteine levels, a major risk factor in heart disease. It also protects DNA. from (Goji – The Himalayan Health Secret, Earl Mindell, R. Ph., M.H., Ph.D.,
  • Physalin (leukemia, anti-cancer effects, Hepatitis B)


Therefore, if you want better quality goji berries that reflect the beneficial properties shown in numerous studies, we recommend going for Lycium Barbarum.

Visually the differences are easily detected, goji berries are smaller in size and have a bright red color when dried, they are also rounder in shape. Wolfberries, on the other hand, are larger in size with an oblong shape and orange red in color.

If you bear all this in mind the next time you shop for goji berries, you will be sure to get the very best variety for you health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *