Botanical descriptionAkebia species are deciduous or semi-evergreen woody vines. Vines will grow up supports if available or along the ground. Akebia trifoliata has compound leaves consisting of three leaflets which are ovate to elliptic or ovate with a truncated wedge shaped base. Flowering lasts for 30 to 60 days from March to May (East Asia). Akebia plants are monoecious with flowers functionally unisexual. The flowers are usually produced on 1 year old shoots. Flowers are strongly protogynous, self-incompatible, and require cross-pollination.
Fruit pulp contains 63.5% water. Pulp sugars include fructose, glucose and sucrose. Flesh acidity is low with the principle organic acid being lactic acid. Akebia species are rich in vitamin C (108 to 930 mg/100 g). Of minerals the concentration of potassium (K) (3.21 to 4.96 g/100 g) is highest followed by magnesium (Mg) (1.00 to 1.51 g/100 g) and calcium (0.47 to 0.49 g/100 g). In general, K, Mg, zinc, iron, and manganese contents in Akebia species are higher than other major fruits such as apple, pear, orange, and so on. The fruits are a rich source of amino acids.
The seeds of Akebia contain a large amount of fatty acids, mainly including oleic acid (47.63%), palmitic acid (20.14%), and linoleic acid (27.05%). 
Raw as a Fruit
Cooked as a Vegetable
Leaves, Young Leaves
Dried as a Tea
Akebia species have been used for centuries in the traditional medicinal practices of China and Japan. The dried stems of A.trifoliata are known as mutong in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia and mokutsu in Kampo, the traditional herbal medicine of Japan.
The stems are analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, blood tonic, cardiotonic, diuretic, emmenagogue and galactogogue. Taken internally, it controls gram-positive bacterial and fungal infections and is used in the treatment of urinary tract infections, lack of menstruation, to improve lactation etc. Other reported ethnobotanical uses include the treatment of amenorrhea, poor circulation, dysuria, edema, gonorrhea, jaundice rheumatoid arthritis and as a nervine. They are also reported to have anticancer properties.
The stems are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.
Seed can be difficult to germinate and cuttings can be slow to root.
A traditional practice to enhance germination is to soak and rub the seedcoat with either a 10% tea solution or with plant ashes.
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. When seedlings are around 30 cm tall they can be transplanted into the field. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. The cuttings can be slow to root. Cuttings can also be taken of soft wood in spring. Root cuttings, December in a warm greenhouse.
Dormant plants are hardy to about -20°c but they can be somewhat tender when young. Another report says that this species is not as hardy as A. quinata, only tolerating temperatures down to -10°c. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun.
Resentful of root disturbance, either grow plants in containers prior to planting them out or plant them out whilst very young.
Plants are semi-evergreen or evergreen in mild winters. The vines grow well on deciduous trees. Plants are not normally pruned, if they are growing too large they can be cut back by trimming them with shears in early spring or during winter dormancy . Keep 7 to 15 buds to serve as replacements for fruiting canes.
In certain regions it is reported that plants are shy to fruit and possibly require some protection in the flowering season, hand pollination is advisable. Plants are self-sterile, at least 2 plants should be grown, each from a different source.
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
Akebia plants begin to flower and set fruit in the second year. While fruit set in the wild is considered low heavy fruiting has been observed in managed orchards (30 tonnes/hectare in the first year of fruiting and 60 tonnes/hectare 3 to 4 years after planting). Fruits ripen over 40 to 50 days from late September to early November (northern hemisphere) depending on the latitude. A. trifoliata has the largest fruit of all Akebia species ranging from 25 to 300 grams each.
Optimal harvest time is approximately one week before the fruit naturally splits open - when there is a visible gray line along the ventral suture. When ripe the fruit skin splits open exposing the sweet flesh of the fruit which will likely attract insects and birds.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Akebia trifoliata.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
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