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