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Actinidia chinensis - Planch.

AuthorPlanch. Botanical references198, 200, 266
FamilyActinidiaceae GenusActinidia
Synonyms
Known HazardsNone known
RangeE. Asia - China.
HabitatThickets and oak forests on slopes or in ravines, 200 - 2300 metres[109, 198].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple iconapple iconapple icon 4 (1-5) Medicinal Ratingapple iconapple icon 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics

icon of man icon of climber A decidious Climber growing to 7.5m.
It is hardy to zone 7 and is frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from October to December. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees, insects. The plant is not self-fertile.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Habitats

Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit; Leaves.

Fruit - raw or cooked. A delicious flavour. The fruit is up to 3cm across[198]. Fresh fruits contain 100 - 420mg vitamin C per 100g and 8 - 14% carbohydrate[218]. Acidity is 1 - 2%, mainly citric acid[218]. The fruit contains a number of small seeds, but these are easily eaten with the fruit[K]. The leaves are eaten cooked in times of need as a famine food[179].

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.

Diuretic; Febrifuge; Sedative.

The fruits, stems and roots are diuretic, febrifuge and sedative[147]. They are used in the treatment of stones in the urinary tract, rheumatoid arthralgia, cancers of the liver and oesophagus[147]. A decoction of the leaves is used to treat mange in dogs[218]. The stem-juice is used in the treatment of gravel[218].

Other Uses

Insecticide; Paper; Pencil.

Paper is made from the bark[178]. 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[178]. The plant is said to have insecticidal properties (no more details)[218].

Scented Plants

Flowers: Fresh
The flowers are sweetly scented.

Cultivation details

Prefers a sound loamy neutral soil[1, 200]. Succeeds in semi-shade but full sun is best for fruit production[200]. Prefers a sheltered position[200]. The dormant plant is hardy to about -15°c[184], though new growth in spring is very susceptible to frost damage[11]. This species is the parent of the cultivated Kiwi fruits, these cultivars are now included under the name A. deliciosa[200]. Fruits are formed on second year wood and also on fruit spurs on older wood[126], any pruning is best carried out in the winter[219]. The flowers are sweetly scented[245]. This is a climbing plant, supporting itself by twining around branches etc[200]. The ssp. A. chinensis setosa.(newly named, no author as yet) is found in Taiwan from 1300 - 2600m[198]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse[133]. It is probably best if the seed is given 3 months stratification[113], either sow it in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in November or as soon as it is received. Fresh seed germinates in 2 - 3 months at 10°c, stored seed can take longer[133]. When they are 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. When the plants are 30cm or more tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts[K]. Most seedlings are male[126]. The seedlings are subject to damping off, they must be kept well ventilated[113]. Cuttings of softwood as soon as ready in spring in a frame[K]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very high percentage[113]. Cuttings of ripe wood, October/November in a frame.

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 Oxford University Press 1951
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).

[11] Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray 1981
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.

[109] Wilson. E. H. Plantae Wilsonae. 0
Details of the palnts collected by the plant collector E. H. Wilson on his travels in China. Gives some habitats. Not for the casual reader.

[113] Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press 1987 ISBN 0942375009
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.

[126] ? The Plantsman. Vol. 6. 1984 - 1985. Royal Horticultural Society 1984
Excerpts from the periodical giving cultivation details and other notes on some of the useful plants including Actinidia and Wisteria species.

[133] Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 1. Thompson and Morgan. 1987
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.

[147] ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press 0 ISBN 0-914294-92-X
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.

[178] Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre 0
A translation of an ancient Chinese herbal. Fascinating.

[179] Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre 1977
A translation of an ancient Chinese book on edible wild foods. Fascinating.

[184] Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs. Pan Books 1989 ISBN 0-330-30258-2
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1900 species and cultivars.

[198] Li. H. L. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. Volume 32. Arnold Arboretum. 1952
A monograph of the genus Actinidia.

[200] Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press 1992 ISBN 0-333-47494-5
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

[218] Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. 1985 ISBN 0-917256-20-4
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 Collins 1983 ISBN 0-00-219220-0
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.

[245] Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. 1994 ISBN 0-7090-5440-8
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.

[266] Flora of China 1994
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.

Readers Comments

Plants for a Future does not verify the accuracy of reader comments, use at your own risk. In particular Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. You should always consult a professional before using plants medicinally.

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