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Permaculture Plants: Goumi





  • Goumi is a fruit well known in Asia and gaining popularity in the U.S.

    Common Name: Goumi, Gumi
    Scientific Name: Elaeagnus multiflora
    Family: Elaeagnaceae (the Oleaster Family)

    A perfectly ripe Goumi berry with its edible, but not typically eaten, single seed.

    Description:
    A small to medium, multi-stemmed shrub native to eastern Asia that produces sweet-tart, red, cherry-sized fruits, can grow in a very wide range of soil conditions, tolerates some shade, and puts nitrogen back into the soil. This plant has a lot going for it.

    Elaeagnus multiflora by M.E. Eaton

    History:
    Goumi has long been grown in China, Korea, and Japan as a food and medicinal plant. It has only been recently that it has has become available in Europe and North America.

    Trivia:

    • Goumi fruit have a single seed which is edible but not tasty… it’s fibrous
    • Because it adds nitrogen to the soil, Goumi has been grown in orchards where it has been reported to increase orchard production by 10%


    Goumi fruits well in less than ideal conditions.

    USING THIS PLANT
    Primary Uses:

    • Fresh eating – use only very fresh fruit
    • Cooked (pies, tarts, etc.) – cooking, with the addition of sugar, makes good use of underripe fruits
    • Preserves, jams, jellies, etc.
    • Fruit leather



    Secondary Uses:

    • General insect (especially bees) nectar plant
    • Food source for wildlife… fruit may stay on the plant through the winter if not harvested.
    • Nitrogen fixing (i.e. it puts nitrogen back into the soil)
    • Hedges – leaves seem to shimmer in the breeze
    • Tolerates salt water, so can be used in maritime environments
    • Flowers are strongly scented… reminiscent of lilac
    • Used medicinally for hundreds (or more) years, but no reliable information



    Yield: No reliable information available
    Harvesting: Summer. Late July to August. Ripe when red, but astringent (dry and lip-puckering) before ripe.
    Storage: Use quickly as they do not store well.

    Goumi hedge in flower.

    Goumi flowers being visited by an Orchard Mason Bee (slightly smaller than a honey bee).


    DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT
    USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9, not frost tender
    AHS Heat Zone: 8-2
    Chill Requirement: 50-450 hours/units depending on the species and variety

    Plant Type: Small to Medium-sized Shrub
    Leaf Type: Deciduous or Semi-Evergreen (depending on the USDA Zone it is planted)
    Forest Garden Use: Shrub Layer
    Cultivars/Varieties: Multiple varieties, but many are not available in the U.S.

    Pollination: Typically Self-Sterile; should be planted with two selections for cross-pollination and best crop yields
    Flowering: Spring (April-June)

    Years to Begin Bearing: 3-4 years, Years to Maximum Bearing: 5-10 years

    Goumi berries should only be eaten fresh when perfectly ripe.

    PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT
    Size: 6.5-10 feet (2-3 meters) tall and wide
    Roots: Shallow and flat, will sucker… new shoots will from from base of the plant
    Growth Rate: Medium to Fast

    Goumi is a shrub that thrives on neglect.

    GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT
    Light: Prefers full sun
    Shade: Tolerates moderate shade
    Moisture: Medium, however will tolerate dry soils
    pH: tolerates a wide range of soil conditions (5.1 – 8.5)

    Special Considerations for Growing:
    Goumi is an actinorhizal nitrogen fixing plant… it will grow best if inoculated with actinobacteria from the genus Frankia.

    Propagation: By seed – will require 8-12 weeks of cold stratification for germination. Can propagate through cuttings, but this is less reliable.

    Maintenance:
    Minimal.

    Concerns:
    Spreads easily by seed. It is considered an established exotic species in parts of the eastern U.S.

    Original Article Here

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