Botanical Name: Actinidia melanandra
Species: A. melanandra
Common Names: Purple kiwi or Red kiwi
Habitat: Actinidia melanandra is native to parts of Hubei, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces of China. It grows in thickets around 1800 metres in W. Hupeh, Szechwan and N. Yunnan. Broad-leaved forests, mountain forests and moist places at elevations of 1000 – 1600 metres.
Actinidia melanandra is a deciduous Climber with hairless stems and green leaves that are bluish-green on the underside, growing to 7 m (23ft). It is in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen from October to November. Branchlets reddish, glabrous, lenticels inconspicuous; pith white to pale brown, lamellate. Petiole 1.5-5.5 cm, glabrous; leaf blade abaxially glaucous, adaxially green, ovate-lanceolate, ovate-oblong, oblong, or ovate, sometimes orbicular, 6.2-13.5 × 2.6-5 cm, papery to leathery, glabrous, abaxially barbate in axils of lateral veins or not barbate, midvein and lateral veins abaxially subconspicuous to conspicuous, adaxially subconspicuous, lateral veins 6 or 7 pairs, veinlets reticulate, abaxially inconspicuous to subconspicuous, adaxially inconspicuous, base cuneate to rounded or truncate, occasionally cordatulate, sometimes oblique, margin sharply serrate or minutely serrulate, apex shortly acuminate to acuminate. Inflorescences cymose, slightly tomentose, 1- or 2-branched, 1-7-flowered; peduncles 1-1.2 cm; pedicels 0.7-1.5 cm; bracts linear, minute, 1-2 mm. Flowers greenish to yellowish white or paper-white. Sepals (4 or)5, ovate to oblong-ovate, 3-7 mm, glabrous, sometimes ciliate. Petals (4 or)5(or 6), cuneate-ovate to orbicular-ovate, 0.6-1.3 cm. Filaments 2.5-3 mm; anthers black, oblong, 2-3.5 mm, sagittate at base. Ovary bottle-shaped, ca. 7 mm, glabrous; styles 4-5 mm. Fruit globose to oblong, 2-4.5 cm, glabrous, lenticels absent, rostrate at apex; sepals caducous. Seeds 2-3 mm. Fl. May-Jun, fr. Sep. 2n = 58, 116.
The fruit has a fuzzy purple skin with reddish flesh. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Bees, insects. The plant is not self-fertile.
Prefers a sound loamy neutral soil. Succeeds in semi-shade but full sun is best for fruit production. Prefers a sheltered position. One report says that plants are not fully hardy in the colder parts of the country. Young spring growth is susceptible to frost damage. Fruits are formed on second year wood and also on fruit spurs on older wood, any pruning is best carried out in the winter. The flowers have a soft, aromatic perfume. This is a climbing plant, supporting itself by twining around branches etc. At least one named variety has been developed for its edible fruit. Plants have been seen in fruit at Kew. This species is a good pollinator for A. arguta cordifolia. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Another report says that both sexes are on one plant.
Fruit – raw or cooked. The globose fruit is hairless when fully ripe and up to 45mm long. It contains a number of small seeds, but these are easily eaten with the fruit.
Medicinal Uses: Not known to us.
Other Uses: Although the fruit is edible, is not commercially cultivated, however it is occasionally sold as a landscape plant under the erroneous name Actinidia melandra.
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