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Raisin Vine Akebia quinata

Phonetic Spelling
a-KEE-bee-uh kwi-NAY-tuh
Description

Chocolate vine, or five leaf akebia is deciduous to semi-evergreen twining woody vine in the Lardizabalaceae family.  The genus name Akebia comes from the Japanese word for twining and qunitata is Latin for five which refers to the five parted compound leaves. It is a large very vigorous vine growing up to 40 feet with graceful palmately compound leaves.  It is very easy to grow in ordinary, well-drained soil and while it prefers full sun it can withstand deep shade conditions. 

The red-purple blooms appear in early spring with leaves and can be lost in the five parted green foliage that is similar to plants in the Schefflera genus.  Fragrant chocolate-purple flowers appear on old wood, so prune after flowering.  Large sausage-shaped purple fruit split open in the fall to reveal edible white flesh and tiny black seeds.  They will die back with a hard freeze but will remain evergreen in warmer climates.  It grows rapidly and can over-take shrubs and other vegetation in the landscape if not kept in check.   Their rampant growth requires heavy pruning and even then it is difficult to manage.

This plant tolerates drought, wet sites, deer browsing, erosion, and heavy shade.  There are some white and pale pink cultivars as well as some with variegated foliage. 

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

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

See this plant in the following landscape:
Paul J Ciener Botanical Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
  • 'Compacta'
  • 'Rosea'
  • 'Shirobara'
  • 'Variegata'
'Alba' , 'Compacta', 'Rosea' , 'Shirobara', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#weeping#purple#fragrant#red#evergreen#deciduous#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#purple flowers#red flowers#weedy#showy leaves#climbing#spring flowers#high maintenance#playground#fast growing#aggressive#vines#twining#climbing vines#blue-green leaves#children's garden#spring interest#edible garden#fantz#fruits#bird friendly#heavy shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
  • 'Compacta'
  • 'Rosea'
  • 'Shirobara'
  • 'Variegata'
'Alba' , 'Compacta', 'Rosea' , 'Shirobara', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#weeping#purple#fragrant#red#evergreen#deciduous#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#purple flowers#red flowers#weedy#showy leaves#climbing#spring flowers#high maintenance#playground#fast growing#aggressive#vines#twining#climbing vines#blue-green leaves#children's garden#spring interest#edible garden#fantz#fruits#bird friendly#heavy shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Akebia
    Species:
    quinata
    Family:
    Lardizabalaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The vines are used for basketweaving.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, Korea, and Japan
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds eat the fruits and disperse the seeds.
    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 is edible and sweet, tastes like a combination of watermelon crossed with a canteloupe, however, many have a negative attitude toward eating the slimy mold-like tissue.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Vine
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    4 inch long fleshy ovoid cucumber-shaped purple fruit which split open in the fall to reveal edible white flesh, similar to dragon fruit, and tiny black seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small, reddish to purple, spicy, fragrant flowers in mid-spring. Male and female flowers in the same raceme. Fragrant chocolate-purple flowers appear on old wood, so prune after flowering. Pendulous dangling racemes, axillary. 2-5, maroon to chocolate-brown, fragrant, 1"; petals lacking; sepals 3, concave; male flowers smaller, clustered; female flowers on elongate pedicels, few. Flowers must be hand-pollinated to produce fruit.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate, palmately compound, 5 leaflets; leaflets are 1"-3" long oblong-obovate or elliptic, emarginate, rotund, entire, bright blue-green above, glaucous beneath, becoming purple in cold weater; petiolules 1 cm long.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Slender, twining, green when young turning brown.
  • Landscape:
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Diseases
    Drought
    Erosion
    Heavy Shade
    Insect Pests
    Problems:
    Weedy