Akebia quinata

Akebia quinata, commonly known as chocolate vine, five-leaf chocolate vine,[1] or five-leaf akebia, is a shrub that is native to Japan (known as akebi (アケビ, 通草, 木通)),[2] China and Korea, commonly used as an ornamental / edible plant in the United States and Europe[3] In its native habitat, it is often found on hills, in hedges, on trees, along forest edges and streams, and on mountainous slopes.[4]

Akebia quinata
Akebia quinata02.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Lardizabalaceae
Genus: Akebia
A. quinata
Binomial name
Akebia quinata

Rajania quinata Houtt.


Akebia quinata is a climbing evergreen shrub that grows to 10 m (30 ft) or more in height and has palmately compound leaves with five elliptic or obovate leaflets that are notched at the tip.[5] The woody stems are greyish-brown with lenticels.[4] The flowers are clustered in racemes and are chocolate-scented, with three or four sepals. The fruits are sausage-shaped pods which contain edible pulp.[6][7] The gelatinous placentation contains seeds surrounded with white pulp, that has a sweet flavor.[citation needed]



The fruit contains a sweet soft pulp resembling a white Dragon fruit, eaten primarily in Japan as a seasonal delicacy. The rind, with a slight bitter taste, is used as vegetable, e.g., stuffed with ground meat and deep-fried.

Often eaten fresh, the Akebia fruit is best after it fully opens naturally on the vine.[8] the seeds are very bitter and can even lead to throat irritation if chewed. They are discarded by means of "Spitting it out" or simply swallowing them whole. The fruit can be processed into jams, jellies, drinks and even added to smoothies or ice-creams.[8]


Akebia quinata is often grown as an ornamental plant in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. It is primarily used to cover less attractive spots on the sides of businesses or a ground cover to prevent erosion of hills.[9] The flowers bloom generally in April - May and produce a "chocolatey" aroma which is often compared to vanilla or sometimes nutmeg rather than chocolate.[9]

Various breeders of the plant have created new subspecies with their own unique colored flowers. One of these is the "Silver Bells" Akebia which has silvery white flowers with purple stamen.[10] (see photo in Gallery)


Akebia quinata consumption has been shown in-vitro to prevent obesity and reduce fat accumulation effectively as well as lower cholesterol levels present in the blood of rodents.[11] Though not commonly known by the public because of the rarity of the fruit, this may be hailed as an "herbal medicine" for weight loss in the future.

Ripe flesh of Akebia quinata fruit grown in Washington State

Akebia also has the ability to regulate chemicals in the kidneys, liver and cardiovascular system making it a health food if regularly consumed.[11]

The stem contains approximately 30% potassium salts thus causing a diuretic action.[12][unreliable medical source?]

The fruit is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat urinary tract infections, scanty lactation, and rheumatoid arthritis.


Traditionally the vines have been used for basket-weaving which may help reduce the spread of this plant in the Eastern United States.[13]

The dried rinds have been used in Japanese fertility festivals and due to their "yonic" appearance it is thought to increase the fertility of women, although there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.


A bunch of Akebia fruit growing on a vine in western Washington)

Akebia prefers sandy soils with good drainage, and regular watering, though it is drought resistant.[14] In some areas the plant is an invasive species to be avoided.[15][16] This species in considered hardy in all of the United Kingdom and Europe (down to -15 to -20 °C).[5] In the US, it suitable for hardiness zones 4–9.[17]

Akebia quinata, and all Akebia species for that matter, will not produce fruit if not pollinated by a genetically different plant. (E.g., male flowers from the mother plant or the male flowers from a clone of the mother plant will not be able to pollinate the female flowers.) Two separate varieties or two Akebia grown from separate seeds are needed to produce to sausage-like fruits [18]


Akebia comes from the Japanese vernacular name, akebi.[19] Akebi was originally written as ()() derived from akeru (開ける, "to open") and mi (, "fruit"), due to how its fruit splits open when ripe.[20][21]

Quinata means 'divided into five' and is presumably a reference to its lobed leaves.[19]


Range of Akebia quinata worldwide (only includes reports confirmed by botanists.) Potential numbers may far exceed what is shown in this map.

Akebia rangeEdit

Akebia quinata can be found in North America from the border of Maine to as far south as Florida[22] It is found in Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Korea, most of Europe and parts of Russia.[22] This map represents the range found in the natural environment. People may also grow this plant ornamentally in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, South America and Africa.

Akebia in North AmericaEdit

Akebia quinata is a minor invasive species in the majority of the East Coast and was introduced in 1845 as an ornamental plant.  This is because the plant has no natural predators or diseases in North America and can grow as it pleases. Its shade tolerance and ability to endure full sun allow it to adapt to nearly all conditions in is grown in. In the East Coast, Akebia quinata has been reported in, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and as far north as Michigan and Wisconsin.

In the West Coast of the United States, Akebia quinata has not become a very invasive species. However, it has been reported in Washington State and Oregon.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 345. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 25 January 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.
  2. ^ 西田尚道監修 (2009). 日本の樹木. 増補改訂 ベストフィールド図鑑. Vol. 5. Gakushūken. p. 12. ISBN 978-4-05-403844-8.
  3. ^ "Akebia". One Green World. Retrieved 2023-01-09.
  4. ^ a b Thompson, John Peter (November 22, 2019). "Akebia quinata (five-leaf akebia)". CABI Invasive Species Compendium. Archived from the original on 2017-07-25. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Akebia quinata | chocolate vine/RHS Gardening". www.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2021-04-21.
  6. ^ Levy-Yamamori, Ran; Ran Levy; Gerard Taaffe (2004). Garden Plants of Japan. Timber Press. ISBN 0-88192-650-7. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
  7. ^ "Decaisne, Joseph. Archives du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle 1: 195, pl. 13a. 1839". Biodiversitylibrary.org. 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  8. ^ a b "Here's Everything You Need To Know Purple Akebi Fruit". Cookist.com. Retrieved 2023-01-09.
  9. ^ a b Bailey, L. H. (2005). Manual of Gardening (Second Edition). Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.
  10. ^ "Silver Bells ™ Akebia Vine". One Green World. Retrieved 2023-01-10.
  11. ^ a b Lee, Seul Gi; Lee, Eunbi; Chae, Jongbeom; Kim, Jin Soo; Lee, Han-Saem; Lim, Yu-Mi; So, Jai-Hyun; Hahn, Dongyup; Nam, Ju-Ock (2022-11-05). "Bioconverted Fruit Extract of Akebia Quinata Exhibits Anti-Obesity Effects in High-Fat Diet-Induced Obese Rats". Nutrients. 14 (21): 4683. doi:10.3390/nu14214683. ISSN 2072-6643. PMC 9656223. PMID 36364945.
  12. ^ Reid, Daniel (2001), "A Handbook of Chinese Healing Herbs", Tuttle Publishing, ISBN 962-593-988-1. Retrieved on 2009-05-20.
  13. ^ taken from ja:アケビ (2011.11.3(Thu) 12:08)
  14. ^ "Akebia quinata (Chocolate Vine)".
  15. ^ "PlantFiles: Akebia Species, Chocolate Vine, Five-Leaf Akebia, Raisin Vine".
  16. ^ "Chocolate-Scented Flowers Make Akebia Vine Unique".
  17. ^ "Five Leaf Akebia Info". www.gardeningknowhow.com. Archived from the original on 2013-03-28. Retrieved 2021-04-21.
  18. ^ "Akebia quinata (five-leaf akebia)". CABI Compendium. doi:10.1079/cabicompendium.3933. Retrieved 2023-01-09.
  19. ^ a b Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 40, 324
  20. ^ 田中孝治 (1995). 効きめと使い方がひと目でわかる 薬草健康法. ベストライフ. Kodansha. pp. 121–122. ISBN 4-06-195372-9.
  21. ^ 平野隆久監修, ed. (1997). 樹木ガイドブック. Nagaokashoten. p. 241. ISBN 4-522-21557-6.
  22. ^ a b Zhang, Jun-Ming; Song, Min-Li; Li, Zhen-Jian; Peng, Xiang-Yong; Su, Shang; Li, Bin; Xu, Xin-Qiao; Wang, Wei (2021-12-09). "Effects of Climate Change on the Distribution of Akebia quinata". Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 9: 752682. doi:10.3389/fevo.2021.752682. ISSN 2296-701X.

External linksEdit