Actinidia chinensis or Golden Kiwi is a climbing shrub from China.
Actinidia chinensis and Actinidia deliciosa were considered to be a single species but about 15 years ago it was decided to classify them as distinct species due to clear botanical differences.
The plant is similar but the fruit is less hairy with shorter and softer hair that easily rubs off. The pulp is bright green, lemon green or bright yellow. It is oval and about the same size as that of Actinidia deliciosa but ends in a point. Taste is sweeter and more aromatic.
Golden Kiwi is commercialized under the brand name Zespri Gold.
The name kiwi is given by New-Zealanders. They were the first to grow kiwi commercially.
Actinidia chinensis is a dioecious vine that grows up to 5 m high.
Leaves are large, leathery, heart-shaped, to 25 cm across, green that turns to a reddish color in autumn.
Flowers are creamy white to yellow, slightly perfumed and to about 5 cm in diameter. They are produced in the leaf axils in may-june and pollinated door Bees. Female plants bear fruit if pollinated. In culture there are self-fertile cultivars.
The fruit is an oval berry, up to 8 cm long, brown skin covered with fine hairs. The edible flesh is green, lime green or bright yellow with numerous small black seeds.
Chinese actinidia, Chinese gooseberry, golden kiwi, kiwi, kiwi fruit, yang tao, yellow-fleshed actinidia
Actinidia chinensis var. chinensis, Actinidia chinensis f. jinggangshanensis, Actinidia chinensis var. jinggangshanensis, Actinidia chinensis var. latifolia, Actinidia chinensis f. rufopulpa, Actinidia chinensis var. rufopulpa, Actinidia multipetaloides
Actinidia: from the Greek aktís (ray) and New Latin suffix -idia
Chinensis: from the Latin chinēnsis (from China)
Mountain forests and secondary forests, between 0-2.600 m altitude
USDA zone 8-10
Prefers warmer, preferably Mediterranean climates. There is a risk that young buds and flowering sustains frost damage from USDA zone 8 and colder zones.
Fertile and moist
Likes moist soil, water regularly during summer
A good layer of compost or other organic fertilizer in spring
Prune in February to give shape. In July prune the branches which bear little or no fruit so that the remaining fruit gets all the nutrition.
The plant is a climber but cannot attach itself to its support, it needs leading and you will have to fasten new branches to the climbing support.
Harvesting will be easier if you provide horizontal support.
Can also be grown over a pergola but harvesting may be a bit complicated.
Seed, cutting or layering
Very easy but do it only for fun: it takes from 3 to 8 years for the plant to start flowering and producing fruit.
If you prefer to harvest fruit rapidly, buy a plant at a nursery. Male plants are usually grafted on a female plant for pollination since Actinidia chinensis is dioecious and some cultivars are auto-pollinating.
- Actinidia chinensis seeds need a cold period to germinate in the spring. This can be done artificially by putting the seeds for a couple of weeks in the fridge. But fruit bought in the store has undergone cooling during transport, so it’s not essential to stratify the seeds before sowing.
- if you harvest seeds from fresh fruit, make sure you get all the pulp from the seeds before sowing: pulp prohibits germination. You can do this buy rubbing the seeds in a very fine sieve or rub them between two sheets of kitchen paper. Rinse in a glass of water: the remaining pulp will float and the seeds sink, you will be able to drain it.
- sow in a light mix
- 20-25 °C
- germination time:3 weeks to 2 months
- repot: when seedlings are big enough to handle