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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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