Herbs & Plants

Actinidia deliciosa

Botanical Name:Actinidia deliciosa
Family: Actinidiaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Genus: Actinidia
Species: A. deliciosa

Common Names: Fuzzy kiwifruit

Habitat: Actinidia deliciosa is native to southern China, the fruit of which has been declared the national fruit of that country. This species grows naturally at altitudes between 600 and 2,000 m.

Actinidia deliciosa is a vigorous, woody, twining vine or climbing shrub reaching 9 m.

The black-lyre leafroller moth (“Cnephasia” jactatana) is one of the few commercially significant pests of this plant.

Its leaves are alternate, long-petioled, deciduous, oval to nearly circular, cordate at the base, and 7.5–12.5 cm long. Young leaves are coated with red hairs; mature leaves are dark-green and hairless on the upper surface, and downy-white with prominent, light-colored veins beneath.

The flowers are fragrant, dioecious or unisexual, borne singly or in threes in the leaf axils, are five- to six-petalled, white at first, changing to buff-yellow, 2.5–5 cm broad, and both sexes have central tufts of many stamens, though those of the female flowers with no viable pollen. The flowers also lack nectar. Male and female flowers appear on different plants (dioecious), and both sexes have to be planted in close proximity for fruit set. Bees are normally used by commercial orchards, although the more labour-intensive hand pollination is sometimes employed. Male flowers are gathered and processed to extract their pollen. This is then sprayed back on to the female flowers.

The oblong fruits are up to 6.25 cm long. The russet-brown skin of the fruits is densely covered with short, stiff, brown hairs. The flesh is firm until fully ripened; it is glistening, juicy and luscious. The color of the flesh is bright-green, or sometimes yellow, brownish or off-white, except for the white, succulent center from which radiate many fine, pale lines. The flavor is subacid to quite acid; the flavor is suggested to be similar to that of the gooseberry or strawberry.


Actinidia deliciosa prefers a sound loamy acid soil, it dislikes alkaline soils and becomes chlorotic at pH 6 or higher. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.5 to 7.3. Succeeds in semi-shade but full sun is best for fruit production. Prefers a sheltered position. Does well when grown into trees. Plants requires a 6 – 8 month frost-free growing season. They are hardy to about -12°c when fully dormant but young growth is very subject to damage by late frosts, being killed back at -2°c. Plants also require a winter chilling of 600 – 1100 hours below 7°c and a long warm summer to ripen the fruit. Plants fruit on second year wood or on fruit spurs produced on older wood, any pruning is best carried out in the winter. The flowers are sweetly scented. A very ornamental plant, it is widely cultivated in warm temperate zones for its edible fruit, there are many named varieties. The fruit can store for up to 9 months at 0°c with a relative humidity of 90%, but under domestic conditions 4 – 6 weeks is optimal. This is a rampant climbing plant, supporting itself by twining around branches etc. Plants have been seen with very good crops of fruit at the Hillier Arboretum in Hampshire in several autumns. These plants had outgrown their planned supports and had climbed 15 metres into neighbouring trees. The main problem with them would be how to harvest the fruit. The female ‘Heywood’ is the most commonly cultivated form in Britain (1993), its fruits store well but it tends to flower late and there can be problems with pollination. The cultivar ‘Blake’ is said to be fast cropping and self-fertile. The male ‘Tomurii’ is free-flowering and disease-resistant. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Plants are usually dioecious, but hermaphrodite forms are known. However, the fruit quality and yield of these hermaphrodite forms is usually inferior. Male and female plants must usually be grown if seed is required, one male to five or six females is normally adequate. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 7. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of “heat days” experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form – tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. Woody. Growth habit is a single or multiple shooting vine from a crown.

Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or cooked. A delicious flavour, the fruit can be up to 8cm long, it is very juicy when fully ripe and has a refreshing, acid flavour. It contains a number of small seeds, but these are easily eaten with the fruit. Rich in vitamin C. Fresh fruits contain 100 – 420mg vitamin C per 100g and 8 – 14% carbohydrate. Acidity is 1 – 2%, mainly citric acid. The fruit ripens in November and can store for 3 – 4 months. Yields of 8 – 30 tonnes per hectare are possible. Leaves are a famine food.

Medicinal Uses:
The fruits, stems and roots are diuretic, febrifuge and sedative. They are used in the treatment of stones in the urinary tract, rheumatoid arthralgia, cancers of the liver and oesophagus.

Other Uses:
Paper is made from the bark. If the bark is removed in one piece from near the root and placed in hot ashes, it becomes very hard and can be used as a tube for a pencil.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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