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Akebia quinata - (Thunb.)Decne.                
Common Name Akebia, Chocolate vine, Fiveleaf Akebia, Chocolate Vine
Family Lardizabalaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woods, hedges and thickets in mountainous areas[58]. Forest margins along streams, scrub on mountain slopes at elevations of 300 - 1500 metres in China[266].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan, Korea.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: Purple, Red. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Variable height, Variable spread.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of climber
Akebia quinata is a deciduous Climber growing to 12 m (39ft 4in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Apr to May, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant)The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms Rajania quinata.
Akebia quinata Akebia, Chocolate vine, Fiveleaf Akebia, Chocolate Vine

(c) ken Fern, Plants For A Future 2010
Akebia quinata Akebia, Chocolate vine, Fiveleaf Akebia, Chocolate Vine
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Ground Cover; North Wall. By. East Wall. By. West Wall. By.
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Leaves.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Fruit - raw[2, 105, 177]. Sweet but insipid[3]. The fruit has a delicate flavour and a soft, juicy texture[K]. Lemon juice is sometimes added to the fruit to enhance the flavour[183]. The bitter skin of the fruit is fried and eaten[183]. The fruit is 5 - 10cm long and up to 4m wide[200, 266]. Soft young shoots are used in salads or pickled[183]. The leaves are used as a tea substitute[105, 177, 183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anodyne;  Antiphlogistic;  Bitter;  Cancer;  Contraceptive;  Depurative;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Emmenagogue;  Febrifuge;  Galactogogue;  
Laxative;  Resolvent;  Stimulant;  Stomachic;  Vulnerary.

The stems are anodyne, antifungal, antiphlogistic, bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, laxative, galactogogue, resolvent, stimulant, stomachic and vulnerary[174, 178, 218, 238]. Taken internally, it controls bacterial and fungal infections and is used in the treatment of urinary tract infections, lack of menstruation, to improve lactation etc[238]. The stems are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[238]. The fruit is antirheumatic, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge, stomachic and tonic[218]. It is a popular remedy for cancer[218]. The root is febrifuge[218]. The plant was ranked 13th in a survey of 250 potential antifertility plants in China[218].
Other Uses

The peeled stems are very pliable and can be used in basket making[174]. Plants have sometimes been used as a ground cover, but their method of growth does not really lend themselves to this use[208].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Arbor. Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[200]. Prefers a good loamy soil[11]. Succeeds in acid or alkaline soils[200]. Prefers partial shade but succeeds in full sun[3, 200]. Succeeds on north facing walls[219]. Plants are fast growing and can be invasive[200]. Dormant plants are hardy to about -20°c but they can be somewhat tender when young[200]. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K]. This species grows very well in S.W. England[11]. Plants are evergreen in mild winters[11]. Resentful of root disturbance, either grow the plants in containers prior to planting them out or plant them out whilst very young[219]. Plants are not normally pruned, if they are growing too large they can be cut back by trimming them with shears in early spring[202]. The flowers have a spicy fragrance, reminiscent of vanilla[219]. Plants are shy to fruit, they possibly require some protection in the flowering season, hand pollination is advisable[3, 11]. Plants are probably self-sterile[11, 182], if possible at least 2 plants should be grown, each from a different source. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: Not North American native, Fragrant flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Surface sow in a light position[133]. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15°c[133]. Stored seed should be given 1 month cold stratification[113, 133] and can be very difficult to germinate. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[11, 113]. The cuttings can be slow to root[200]. Cuttings can also be taken of soft wood in spring[113]. Root cuttings, December in a warm greenhouse[113]. Layering in early spring[1]. Very easy, the plants usually self-layer and so all you need to do is dig up the new plants and plant them out directly into their permanent positions.
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[3]Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit.
A very readable book with information on about 100 species that can be grown in Britain (some in greenhouses) and details on how to grow and use them.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[58]Ohwi. G. Flora of Japan. (English translation)
The standard work. Brilliant, but not for the casual reader.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[113]Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
[133]Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 1.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
[174]Kariyone. T. Atlas of Medicinal Plants.
A good Japanese herbal.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[178]Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica.
A translation of an ancient Chinese herbal. Fascinating.
[182]Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos.
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[202]Davis. B. Climbers and Wall Shrubs.
Contains information on 2,000 species and cultivars, giving details of cultivation requirements. The text is terse but informative.
[208]Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover
An excellent detailled book on the subject, very comprehensive.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[219]Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V. Gardening on Walls
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[266] Flora of China
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
Ioana Fri Mar 20 2009
I have an akebia quinata for 2 years. It is placed in full sun quite near a sprinkler. It has quite yellow leaves and it did not grew more than half a meter. What shall I do to help it grow?


Elizabeth H.
Chris Sun Jan 24 2010
Hi Ioana I would suggest that you check your soil first. Is it heavy clay and poorly drained or light and sandy but not able to retain water? After checking the soil, look at what other plants are growing near it. Some plants exude chemicals from their roots to suppress growth of nearby plants. Then ask yourself, when was the last time you fertilized the garden? Hope this helps

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