Akebia quinata or Chocolate Vine is a climber with a profusion of chocolate scented flowers.
The fruit is sausage shaped and has deliciously sweet flesh, making it a popular treat.
Very vigorous grower, it can become invasive and is on the invasive species list in New Zealand.
Akebia quinata is a semi-persistent vigorous vine: persistent until USDA zone 6, deciduous in colder areas.
The stems are a purple brown and can reach 10 m long.
The sheets are composed of five leaflets.
The dark purple flowers are 5-7 cm. They smell like chocolate. The flowers grow in clusters with the female flowers at the base and male flowers at the top.
It takes a long hot summer for fruit to form and mature and there is more fruit when different varieties are grown near each other. Although self-pollination can lead to fruition, it is less abundant. Flowering occurs in spring.
The fruit is sausage shaped, dark purple, 5-10 cm long and edible. The white flesh contains hundreds of small seeds. The taste is a mixture of banana, lychee and passion fruit but may vary from bland to very pronounced.
Culinary: the flesh of the fruit is eaten raw as a delicacy, the rind is cooked.
Ornamental: the vine is grown for its vigorous growth and chocolate scented flowering.
Medicinal: leaves, stems and roots are used in traditional Chinese medicine as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and galactagogue.
Akebia, chocolate vine, fiveleaf akebia, raisin fine
Akebia micrantha, Akebia quinata var. diplochlamys, Akebia quinata var. polyphylla, Akebia quinata var. viridiflora, Akebia quinata var. yechi, Rajania quinata
Akebia: from the Japanese name for the plant, akebi
Quinata: from the Latin quinque (five), referring to the five lobes of the leaf
East Asia: Japan, Korea, China
In temperate forests: forest margins along streams or shrubs on the mountain slopes, 300-1,500 m altitude.
USDA zone 4-8, aerial parts die at -5 °C, the plant dies at -20 °C
Sun, partial shade and shade but more sun is beneficial for fruiting
Benefits from regular watering but is drought resistant
Growth is vigorous, may be pruned after flowering to give a less cluttered appearance to the plant.
It may also be cut down to the ground in late fall for it will restart the following spring.
The fruits need 40-50 days to mature, about late September to early November. The optimal day for harvesting is when a gray line becomes visible along the ventral suture. Fruits can be stored 2-3 weeks at room temperature and up to 3 months if refrigerated.
Seed, cuttings, layering
- sow in a cold frame as soon as the seeds are harvested from ripe fruit
- stored seeds should be stratified for 1 month but will not germinate easily
- surface sow
- germination time: 1-3 months at 15 °C
- transplant the seedlings when they are large enough to be handled
- keep seedlings in half shaded place in a cold greenhouse for their first winter
- plant in the garden in late spring or early summer
- collect semi-woody cuttings in summer or softwood in spring
- place in a cold frame where they will spend the first winter
- plant in the garden the following spring
- in spring
- quite easy: the stems growing in soil spontaneously form roots, just dig up the new plants and plant them directly in place