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Updated: Jul 7, 2023

Actinidia deliciosa

Habitats: Derived in cultivation from Actindia chinensis, it is not known in a truly wild situation.

Main bloom time: early summer

Bloom color: white

Harvest time: November

Growth: vines of about 6 meters

Edible parts: fruit, leaves, seeds

Other uses: paper, medicine

Plants present at Son Selva: 2 (one male, one female)

Kiwifruit is native to central and eastern China. The first recorded description of the kiwifruit dates to the 12th century during the Song dynasty. The fruit was introduced to New Zealand in 1904 by a teacher from a trip to China and became increasingly popular. During World War II and later it became commonly exported, first to Great Britain and then to California in the 1960s.

Kiwifruit plants generally are dioecious, meaning a plant is either male or female. The male plants have flowers that produce pollen, the females receive the pollen to fertilise their ovules and grow fruit. Some varieties can self pollinate, but even they produce a greater and more reliable yield when pollinated by male kiwifruit. This is also the reason why we've got two kiwi vines to start with. They are located on eighter side of our water tank in the hope that one day the big leaves will shade (and hide) the tank for better water quality.

Our two young kiwi vines on each side of the water tank.

Cheeky flowers

In nature, actindia species are pollinated by birds and native bumblebees, which visit the flowers for pollen, not nectar. The female flowers produce fake anthers with what appears to be pollen on the tips in order to attract the pollinators, although these fake anthers lack the DNA and food value of the male anthers. Commercially grown kiwifruit is notoriously difficult to pollinate. The flowers are not very attractive to honey bees, in part because the flowers do not produce nectar and bees quickly learn to prefer flowers with nectar.

Kiwifruit vines require vigorous pruning, similar to that of grapevines. Fruit is borne on 'one-year-old and older' canes, but production declines as each cane ages. Canes should be pruned off and replaced after their third year.

Kiwis are low in calories, protein, and fat, and they're a good source of fiber. Kiwis are highly nutritious and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. They're particularly high in vitamin C, a nutrient that's essential for immune health. Firm kiwifruit ripen after a few days to a week when stored at room temperature, but should not be kept in direct sunlight. Faster ripening occurs when placed in a paper bag with an apple, pear, or banana.

Medicinal uses:

The fruits, stems and roots are diuretic, febrifuge and sedative. They are used in the treatment of stones in the urinary tract, rheumatoid arthralgia, cancers of the liver and oesophagus.

Other uses:

Paper is made from the bark. If the bark is removed in one piece from near the root and placed in hot ashes, it becomes very hard and can be used as a tube for a pencil.

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