Elaeagnus multiflora, Goumi berry, also known as Cherry Silverberry, Cherry Elaeagnus Cibie, Longpipe Bush, and Daio-Gumi has many names and many benefits. Not so well known in the USA, the Goumi berry (not to be confused with the Goji berry) has been rising on the garden scene.
It originated in China, Korea, and Japan. It’s one of three edible species of Elaeagnus including Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) and Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia). Although both Autumn and Russian Olive are invasive, the Goumi is considered the least invasive of the three but has not shown itself to be a problem in Oregon.
How is the Goumi good for us as well for our gardens? As a perennial, the Goumi (unlike annuals whose short life span takes nutrients from soils to mature rapidly) has better roots for absorbing minerals from soils.
In the Elaeagnaceae (oleaster) family, it’s a nitrogen fixer. So instead of taking from the soil, the Goumi actually renews it with nitrogen, benefiting nearby plants as well. So, planting more than one is even better. Note that it grows to 6’-10’ tall, so plan accordingly.
The Goumi berry also requires little fussing over and generally prefers poor soil. Once established, it’s also drought tolerant. It’s long-lived and doesn’t need replanting.
Along with improving soil for neighboring plants, the Goumi berry is bee friendly. It provides us with edible fruit! Note that each berry contains a single large seed. If you’re gardening following permaculture principles, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect species.
This super-powered plant beautifies the garden. Its emerald-colored oval leaves have a shimmering silver underside.
Early in spring, creamy bell-shaped flowers fill the air with a delicious fragrance. Following on are bright scarlet silvery-speckled drupes that resemble cherries.
Whether part of an edible hedge or an orchard tree neighbor, both you and your other plants will benefit from its plant-based nutrition, garden beautification and what appears on your dinner plate.
Goumi berries taste great when completely ripe. Immature berries are astringent like unripe persimmons. When ripe, their tart sweetness resembles pie cherries or sweet rhubarb.
They’re great in many recipes, whether consumed fresh out-of-hand (when ripe), cooked, made into jams, jellies, desserts, or more.
They can grow in USDA hardiness zones 4-9, and roots have been known to survive to -20 F. Established shrubs tolerate drought and air pollution. Growing in shade though a half day of sun is preferred. They are pest and disease resistant and partially self-fertile.
So, get rid of the gloomy. Bee friendly and plant and treat your garden to a sweet Goumi!
For this season, it may be a challenge to acquire a Goumi. But don’t despair, it’s worth waiting for them to come back in stock.
One Green World
They have a wait list that’s definitely worth getting on!
Rain Tree Nursery
Shooting Star Nursery
3223 Taylor Rd, Central Point
Very Berry Goat Cheese and Greens Salad
About 4 servings
2/3 cup Goumi berries
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons honey or Agave nectar
2 tablespoons fresh French tarragon, minced fine
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
juice and zest from one organic lime
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
6-8 cups mixed fresh salad greens, like arugula, red and green lettuces, baby beet, kale, or chard (from the garden or market)
½ cup each strawberries (quartered), blackberries, and raspberries
4 oz of goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup lightly salted pistachio nuts
Pit Goumi berries then purée in food processor. Add wine vinegar, honey, tarragon, garlic, mustard, oil, lime juice, zest, and sea salt. Pulse until well blended. Put excess vinaigrette in glass jar to store for up to 2 weeks.
Mix together greens and pile on 4 individual salad plates or in shallow bowls. Divide among plates and sprinkle the berries, goat cheese and pistachio nuts over the greens. Pour vinaigrette over as desired and serve.