Native to China, the Russian Far East, and Japan, Goumi is a very popular fruit, which is catching on in European and American gardens too. Goumi (Elaeagnus multiflora) forms a medium size shrub about 6 feet tall, with attractive, silvery green foliage. It’s flowers supposedly bloom in the middle to end of May, but mine are in full bloom in Portland Oregon in early to mid April. The juicy, scarlet-red fruit is speckled with silver and ripens elsewhere in July, In Portland in June. The flavor is similar to pie cherries, and the fruit is about the size of a huckleberry or blueberry. We usually just eat them fresh/raw or juice them. They have a sweet/tart taste, with an interesting dry after taste.
The Goumi has been reported to be a nutraceutical- high in vitamin A and E, with bioactive compounds, minerals, flavinoids, and proteins. Their lycopene content is the highest of any food and has been used in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. The seeds are edible as well, and even though they are a bit fibrous, they are especially high in proteins and fats. The plant is also a nitrogen fixer, so it improves the fertility is surrounding soil. What’s not to love?
Goumi likes full to ½ day sun, well-drained soil, and begins bearing the 2nd year after planting. It’s also pest and disease resistant, so it’s a carefree plant for the busy or lazy gardener. The instructions said it’s partially self-fertile and to plant two varieties for heavier crops. I’m not sure if being in the Northwest everything just grows better, but we have very heavy crops with just one bush. I did bird net it last year because I didn’t want to chance that the birds would get to the red fruit before me. I used to have a dwarf cherry tree in the same spot, and the birds and raccoons would strip it before the cherries were even ripe. So that’s why I net this Goumi, because I want the fruit, and so far that’s worked. * Addendum: for the past few years I’ve not used bird netting. Yes the birds eat some of the fruit, but there is still plenty for people to eat as well.