Herbs & Plants

Actinidia polygama

Botanical Name: Actinidia polygama
Family: Actinidiaceae
Order: Ericales
Genus: Actinidia
Species:A. polygama

Common Names: Silver vine, Matatabi, and Cat powder

Habitat: is native to E. Asia – China, Japan. It grows in woodlands and hedges in mountains throughout Japan.Mountain forests at elevations of 500 – 1900 metres in China.

Actinidia polygama is a deciduous Climber growing to 6 m (19ft 8in). The petiole leaves are silver and white in color and 6–13 centimetres (2.4–5.1 in) long and 4–9 centimetres (1.6–3.5 in) wide. These colorful markings make the plant identifiable from afar, until the flowering season when the leaves turn completely green.

The flowering season lasts from late June to early July, in which the plant bears white flowers about 2.5 centimetres (1 in) in diameter. The longevity of an individual flower is 2–3 days, when the plant also starts to develop small, yellow to yellow-red, egg-shaped, fleshy, and multiseeded fruits, which mature from September to October. The fruit is about 1.5 centimetres (0.59 in) wide and 3–4 centimetres (1.2–1.6 in) long. The inside of the fruit resembles the common kiwifruit, but it is orange in color rather than green.


Prefers a sound loamy neutral soil. Succeeds in semi-shade but full sun is best for fruit production. Prefers a sheltered position. Plants are hardy to about -30°c. when dormant but young growth in spring can be cut back by late frosts. 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 are fragrant. This is a climbing plant, supporting itself by twining around branches etc. The plant is very attractive to cats and can be damaged by them. This species has been confused in literature with A. kolomikta. It is closely related but can be distinguished by the leaves which are tapered at the base whilst those of A. kolomikta are heart-shaped. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. One report suggests that plants are self-fertile whilst another says that they are dioecious. It is likely that most plants are dioecious but that there are some self-fertile hermaphrodite forms. A cultivar named 418-77 is self-fertile.

Edible Uses:
Fruit is eaten raw or cooked. Not very palatable, it is eaten salted. Some cultivars have nice flavoured fruits. The fruit contains up to 5 times the vitamin C. of blackcurrants. Fairly large fruits, up to 3cm across. The ovoid fruits are orange and hairless when fuly ripe. It contains a number of small seeds, but these are easily eaten with the fruit. Leaves – raw or cooked. The leaves can also be roasted and mixed with tea.

Medicinal Uses:
Actinidia polygama has been used for its medicinal benefits for centuries, as a preventive health aid, it is still commonly used as an alternative therapy for hypertension, arthritic pain, and was investigated for potential to induce apoptosis in in vitro promyelocytic leukemia. In traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, it has been used for a wide range of health problems, including:

Heart tonic,Rheumatism, Circulatory stimulant, Cystitis, Arthritic pain,Hypertension, Cholesterol reduction, Liver protection, Kidney disease, Cardiac ailments, Stroke.

In Korean Buddhism, Actinidia polygama was soaked in traditional Korean sauces and used for diuresis, alleviation of pain, hypertension, genital troubles, and bronchitis.

It is said that:
“Old, weary travelers, (come) back to life to eat the fruit of [silver vine] and then continue their journey.”

Actinidia polygama leaves also have a high content of flavonoids, terpenoids, saponins, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Grinding the leaves and stems into a coarser grind than needed for the tea makes Matatabi grass, which is used as bath salts. The vine is used as material for folk crafts, and the sap is collected to make lotions.

Polygamol, which is made from the fruits, is used as a heart tonic. A dry decoction is used to treat colic and rheumatism.

Silver vine (also called matatabi) has long been known to elicit euphoric response in cats. It is the most popular cat treat in Asia, thus sometimes cited in manga as matatabi. The reaction to silver vine is similar to the catnip response, but appears to be more intense. Silver vine is an alternative to catnip, and many cats which do not react to catnip will respond positively to silver vine powder made from dried fruit galls. Typical behaviors include rolling, chin and cheek rubbing, drooling, and licking. The effect usually lasts between five and 30 minutes, and cats will usually visit silver vine again after about 20–30 minutes.

A cat under the effect of Actinidia polygama

Known Hazards: The leaves are hallucinogenic and sedative. The leaves contain substances that make them very attractive to cats and for this reason they are especially useful as a sedative for lions etc in zoos. When consumed in large quantities the leaves can have a mild hallucinatory effect.

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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