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Products > Akebia quinata
Akebia quinata - Chocolate Vine
Image of Akebia quinata
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Vine
Family: Lardizabalaceae (Lardizabalas)
Origin: Asia, Central (Asia)
Flower Color: Purple
Bloomtime: Winter
Synonyms: [Rajania quinata]
Height: Climbing (Vine)
Width: Spreading
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: < 0 F
Akebia quinata (Chocolate Vine) - A fast growing, woody based, semi-deciduous (in mild winter regions), twining vine that can climb to 30 feet, but is usually less. It has palmately compound leaves composed of five rounded 2- to 3-inch-long leaflets that emerge purple tinged, then age to a blue green to light green in full sun. In late winter to mid spring appear the clusters of rounded whitish buds that open to expose interestingly fragrant purplish-brown flowers with 3 petals. Male and female flowers are separate on the inflorescence with staminate flowers near the terminal end and with female flowers below. Pollinated flowers develop into a sausage-shaped fruit that is rarely if ever seen in our area. This fruit slits along one side longitudinally to expose the edible sweetish pulp surrounding the seeds.

Plant in full sun or part shade, but should have a semi-rich, well-draining soil with regular to occasional irrigation - best with soils that have even moisture. Root hardy to around -20 F and useful as a deciduous vine in USDA zones 5 to 6 and semi-deciduous to evergreen in warmer zones.

Akebia quinata is native to China, Korea, and Japan and while its growth is constrained by our drier climate, it has been invasive in wetter areas. The genus name comes from a Latinization of the Japanese colloquial name for the plant as "Akebi". The specific epithet is from the Latin word 'quin' meaning "having 5" in reference to the number of leaflets. The name chocolate vine is sometimes cited as a reference to the color or smell of the flowers though they are more purple than brown, and the fragrance seems a unique sweet smell rather than that of chocolate. This plant is in an interesting family called the Lardizabalaceae, which is most closely related to the Berberidaceae and Ranunculaceae. The family was named to honor Michael Lardizabala y Uribe, a Spanish patron of botany. Harry Butterfield in his Dates ofIntroduction of Trees and Shrubs to California noted that Akebia quinata was introduced into cultivation in California by R.D. Fox at his Santa Cara Valley Nursery in 1884 with the additional comment that it was "probably here long before". Dr. Francesco Franceschi (AKA Emanuele Orazio Fenzi) noted it to be found "much planted in Santa Barbara" when he arrived in 1895. We have grown this interesting vine since 1988 and have a nice specimen planting of it on alongside our original sales office near our greenhouses. 

This information about Akebia quinata displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.