Another Food Forest video in a series on Nutraceuticals – Substances which combine “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”, is a food or food product that provides health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. The video was taken at the Food Forest at Charles St. Gardens.
Goumi like Autumn Olives are a species of Elaeagnus native to China, Korea, and Japan. Elaeagnus multiflora is a deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub or small tree growing to 2-8 m tall, with a trunk up to 30 cm diameter with dark brown bark.
Goumi are high in vitamin A and E, bioactive compounds, minerals, flavinoids and proteins. Their lycopene content is the highest of any food and is being used in the prevention of heart disease, cancers and in the treatment of cancer. Cooking the fruit increases the lycopene content. The fruits and seeds are an excellent source of essential fatty acids as well which is very unsual for a fruit. The seeds are also edible although somewhat fiberous, and are especially high in proteins and fats.
The fruit is round to oval drupe 1 cm long, silvery-scaled orange, ripening red dotted with silver or brown, pendulous on a 2-3 cm peduncle. When ripe in mid- to late summer, the fruit is juicy, tart and edible.
All of the eleagnus species are nitrogen fixers. They take nitrogen out of the air and put it into the ground through a symbiotic relationship with a bacteria that lives in their roots, thereby improving the fertility of the surrounding soils.
The Plants for a Future database has some good things to say about the Goumi. As well as confirming the health benefits and edible nature (pleasantly acid flavour), it is noted that plants can be grown as a hedge in exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure (could be useful for Waiheke). Reasonably fast growing and providing a good screen in the summer, though much more open in the winter. It is a good companion hedge to grow, the plants enriching the soil and improving the growth of neighbouring plants.