Woody vine with segmented white pith. Sterile branchlets with dense shaggy hair, flowering shoots downy. Leaves dark green and slightly hairy above, densely hairy below with star-shaped hairs, leaves of sterile shoots heart-shaped, deeply notched, mostly 10-20 cm long but shorter, broader and more rounded on flowering shoots. Leaf stalks 3-5 cm long. Flowers on year-old wood, white, becoming orange-yellow, 3-4 cm wide. Fruit an edible ellipsoidal hairy brown, thin-skinned berry with green flesh and small black seeds. [A. chinensis Planch. var. deliciosa (A. Chev.) A. Chev.]
Grows best in cooler districts. A major agricultural export from New Zealand although in the last decade commercial development has begun in Australia. There are 2 major commercial cultivars, 'Bruno' which has dark brown extremely hairy elongated fruits, flowering and cropping relatively late but not storing as well as 'Hayward', the main commercial cultivar, which flowers late and crops heavily and has barrel-shaped fruit that keep well in cool storage. Other cultivars are 'Abbott', 'Tomuri' and 'Matua'.
The first specimens of A. deliciosa introduced to Victoria are believed to have arrived in the 1930s at what is now the Nobelius Heritage Park, Emerald (Nobelius Nursery site). An original specimen remains next to the site Museum. Formerly known as A. chinensis Planch., the commonly cultivated commercial plant, also referred to as A. chinensis var. deliciosa, is a variety that has been elevated to species rank as A. deliciosa. A. chinensis is a true species but is not cultivated in Australia.
Seed or semi-hardwood cuttings. Although occasional bisexual flowers occur, plants are usually functionally single-sexed (polygamo-dioecious), male and female plants being needed for fruit production. Sometimes male branches are grafted onto female plants. However, the bisexual flowers do occasionally produce fruit.
Fruit with a gooseberry flavour used for salads, preserves, juices and wine. Cultivated commercially in New Zealand from many named cultivars and promoted as kiwifruit.
Liang & Ferguson (1986).
A. kolomikta (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim. from E Asia has naturally variegated leaves but is rarely cultivated in Australia.
Source: (1997). Actinidiaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.