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Akebia - (Thunb.)Decne.

Common Name Akebia, Chocolate vine, Fiveleaf Akebia, Chocolate Vine
Family Lardizabalaceae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woods, hedges and thickets in mountainous areas[58]. Forest margins along streams, scrub on mountain slopes at elevations of 300 - 1500 metres in China[266].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan, Korea.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Akebia Akebia, Chocolate vine, Fiveleaf Akebia, Chocolate Vine

(c) ken Fern, Plants For A Future 2010
Akebia Akebia, Chocolate vine, Fiveleaf Akebia, Chocolate Vine


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Bloom Color: Purple, Red. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Variable height, Variable spread.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of climber
Akebia is a deciduous Climber growing to 12 m (39ft 4in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant). The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Rajania quinata.


Edible Uses

Fruit - raw[2, 105, 177]. Sweet but insipid[3]. The fruit has a delicate flavour and a soft, juicy texture[K]. Lemon juice is sometimes added to the fruit to enhance the flavour[183]. The bitter skin of the fruit is fried and eaten[183]. The fruit is 5 - 10cm long and up to 4m wide[200, 266]. Soft young shoots are used in salads or pickled[183]. The leaves are used as a tea substitute[105, 177, 183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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The stems are anodyne, antifungal, antiphlogistic, bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, laxative, galactogogue, resolvent, stimulant, stomachic and vulnerary[174, 178, 218, 238]. Taken internally, it controls bacterial and fungal infections and is used in the treatment of urinary tract infections, lack of menstruation, to improve lactation etc[238]. The stems are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[238]. The fruit is antirheumatic, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge, stomachic and tonic[218]. It is a popular remedy for cancer[218]. The root is febrifuge[218]. The plant was ranked 13th in a survey of 250 potential antifertility plants in China[218].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

The peeled stems are very pliable and can be used in basket making[174]. Plants have sometimes been used as a ground cover, but their growth method does not lend itself to this use[208]. Scented. Landscape Uses Arbor. A. quinata is a specimen plant used in ornamental gardens and managed landscapes [1-8]. A. quinata seeds produce an oil used in traditional soap making in China [1-8].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Akebia quinata is a reasonably hardy plant - when dormant, it can tolerate temperatures down to about -20 to -30°c. However, plants can be somewhat tender when young - new growth in spring can be damaged even by light frosts[11, 200, 1691 ]. Akebia quinata requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil [200 ]. A. quinata is both shade and drought tolerant[1-8]. It prefers good loamy soil [11 ] and succeeds in acid or alkaline soils[200 ]. It prefers partial shade but thrives in full sun[3, 200 ] and succeeds on shady walls [219 ]. It is best to grow the plants in a position that is sheltered from the early morning sun, especially in spring, to help protect them from potential frost damage[K ]. Plants are fast growing and can be invasive[200 ]. Plants are resentful of root disturbance - either grow the plants in containers before planting them out or plant them out whilst very young[219 ]. Plants are generally not pruned; if they grow too large, they can be cut back by trimming them with shears in early spring[202 ]. The flowers have a spicy fragrance reminiscent of vanilla[219 ]. Plants are shy to fruit outside their native range - possibly require some protection in the flowering season, so hand pollination is advisable[3, 11 ]. Plants are probably self-sterile[11, 182 ]; if possible, at least two plants should be grown, each from a different source. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus [200 ]. Special Features: Not North American native, Fragrant flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms. In garden design and the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help choose plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements, including nutrients and water. The root pattern is branching: a heart root, dividing from the crown into several primary roots going down and out. The root pattern is suckering with new plants from underground runners away from the plant [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Surface sow in a light position[133]. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15°c[133]. Stored seed should be given 1 month cold stratification[113, 133] and can be very difficult to germinate. When 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. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[11, 113]. The cuttings can be slow to root[200]. Cuttings can also be taken of soft wood in spring[113]. Root cuttings, December in a warm greenhouse[113]. Layering in early spring[1]. Very easy, the plants usually self-layer and so all you need to do is dig up the new plants and plant them out directly into their permanent positions.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Akebi, Eureumdeonggul, Mu tong fruit, Urum, Five leaf akebia, Chocolate Vine [1-4].

Native Plant Search

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Asia, Australia, Britain, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, North America, Pakistan, UK, USA, Native to China [1-4]. A. quinata is a well-documented, adventive vine native to eastern Asia, eastern central China, Japan and Korea. It has been introduced into parts of North America, Europe and Australia 1-8].

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

A. quinata is a highly invasive, aggressive vine native to eastern Asia, eastern central China, Japan and Korea. It has been introduced into Canada, Europe, Oceania and the USA. Here it poses a dangerous risk to ecosystems by readily naturalizing in suitable climates. A. quinata grows quickly by vegetative means where it can outcompete and replace existing flora, including understory shrubs and young trees. Its dense growth shades out sunlight preventing seed germination and establishment of seedlings of native plants. The dense shade created by A. quinata can kill existing species [1-8].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Akebia quinataAkebia, Chocolate vine, Fiveleaf Akebia, Chocolate VineClimber12.0 4-9 FLMHFSNM423
Akebia trifoliataAkebia, Threeleaf AkebiaClimber9.0 5-8 FLMHFSNM422
Akebia x pentaphyllaFive Leaved AkebiaClimber9.0 4-8  LMHFSNM402

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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