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Chocolate Vine Akebia quinata

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
a-KEE-bee-uh kwi-NAY-tuh
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

A deciduous to semi-evergreen twining woody vine to 40 feet. with graceful palmately compound leaves. They have five elliptic to oblong-elliptic leaflets that are bright green above and glaucous below.  It is very easy to grow in ordinary, well-drained soil.  Male and female vines produce fragrant chocolate-purple flowers on old wood, so prune after flowering.  Flowers are followed by a large sausage-shaped purple fruit which split open in the fall to reveal edible white flesh and tiny black seeds.  It may be cut to the ground to rejuvenate a leggy plant.  It grows rapidly and can over-take other shrubs and other vegetation in the landscape if not kept in check.

Blooms appear in early spring with leaves and can be lost in foliage; staminate and pistillate flowers bloom at different times to prevent selfing; leaves are schefflera-like and die off green with a hard freeze; rampant growth requires heavy pruning; there are some white and pale pink cultivars as well as some with variegated foliage. 

Fruit resembles a purple cucumber and is edible; fruit dehisces along one suture exposing a central purplish column within; fruit wall non edible, extremely bitter; central core has color of bread mold and is gelatinous when handled; core is edible and sweet, taste a combination of watermelon crossed with a canteloupe, however, many have negative attitude toward putting a slimy mold-like tissue into one's mouth; loaded with large, hard seeds that can crack a tooth; decaying fruit on ground can provide a nasty ground litter, but flowers must be hand polinated to produce fruit. 

Tolerates drought and moisture, sun or shade; vigorous, rapid growth; transplants easily; no serious pests/disease problems.

Seed:  Pod

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious insect or disease problems. Though not designated a noxious weed by the Federal Government, environmental groups consider this plant too invasive to plant where it can spread or reseed itself into natural areas and crowd out native plants.

Habit: Deciduous to semi-evergreen

Texture: Fine to medium

Exposure: Sun to moderate shade

Quick ID Hints:

  • Schefflera-like, palmately compound leaves
  • Flowers pendulous, 3-petaloid, purple-brown
  • Purplish, sausage-shaped, pulpy, seamed fruit
  • Deciduous, woody, twining vine
  • Leaves and flowers on dwarf shoots
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
  • 'Compacta'
  • 'Rosea'
  • 'Shirobara'
  • 'Variegata'
Tags:
#purple#fragrant#red#evergreen#sun#fruit#deciduous#birds#invasive#full sun#fragrant flowers#spring#wildlife plant#purple flowers#red flowers#shade tolerant#weedy#climbing#spring flowers#rapid growth#playground#grows fast#vines#twining#climbing vines#children's garden#edible garden#fantz
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
  • 'Compacta'
  • 'Rosea'
  • 'Shirobara'
  • 'Variegata'
Tags:
#purple#fragrant#red#evergreen#sun#fruit#deciduous#birds#invasive#full sun#fragrant flowers#spring#wildlife plant#purple flowers#red flowers#shade tolerant#weedy#climbing#spring flowers#rapid growth#playground#grows fast#vines#twining#climbing vines#children's garden#edible garden#fantz
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Akebia
    Species:
    quinata
    Family:
    Lardizabalaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds eat the fruits.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    pests, diseases,
    Climbing Method:
    Twining
    Edibility:
    The inner white flesh of the fruit.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Vine
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Description:
    The inner white flesh of the fruit is edible. Seed is in a pod. Flowers are followed by a large sausage shaped purple fruit which split open in the fall to reveal edible white flesh and tiny black seeds. A fleshy, ovoid-oblong follicle, purple.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small, reddish to purple, spicy, fragrant flowers in mid-spring. Male and female vines produce fragrant chocolate-purple flowers on old wood, so prune after flowering. Pendulous raceme, axillary. 2-5, maroon to chocolate-brown, fragrant, 1"; petals lacking; sepals 3, concave; male flowers smaller, clustered; female flowers on elongate pedicels, few.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Palmately compound leaves that have five elliptic to oblong-ellptic leaflets that are bright green above and glaucous below. Alternate, palmately compound, 5 leaflets; leaflets oblong-obovate or elliptic, emarginate, rotund, entire, bluish-green above, glaucous beneath; petiolules 1 cm long.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    It may be cut to the ground to rejuvenate a leggy plant. Slender, twining, green to brown.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Diseases
    Insect Pests
    Problems:
    Invasive Species