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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ericales
Family: Actinidiaceae
Genus: Actinidia
Actinidia chinensis
Actinidia arguta, (Tara Vine)
Actinidia kolomikta, (Arctic Beauty)
Actinidia polygama, (Silver Vine)

The kiwifruit is the fruit of a large woody vine, most commonly of the species Actinidia chinensis (order Ericales, family Actinidiaceae). The fruit is about the size of a hen's egg (about 6 cm long and 4.5 to 5.5 cm around), and is often not perfectly round. It has a hairy, dull-brown exterior that is not usually consumed. Inside, the flesh is bright green with rows of small, black, edible seeds. The texture of the fruit is soft and the flavor is sometimes described as a mix of strawberry, banana and pineapple. Kiwifruit is a rich source of vitamin C. Its potassium content by weight is slightly less than that of a banana. It also contains vitamins A and E, calcium, iron and folic acid.

The kiwifruit and other species of actinidia are native to south-east China, where it grows wild and is known as:

  • Macaco monkey peach (猕猴桃 Mi2 hou2 tao2): the most common name
  • Unusual fruit or wonder fruit (奇異果 qi2 yi4 guo3): the most common name in Taiwan and Hong Kong (奇异果 kay yee goh). A quasi-transliteration of "kiwifruit".
  • Yang peach (阳桃 Yang2 tao2)
  • Ghost peach (羊桃 yang2 tao2)
  • Hairy pear (毛梨 mao2 li2)
  • Vine pear (藤梨 teng2 li2)

Cultivation spread from China in the early 20th century. Kiwifruit were planted in New Zealand in 1906 by Alexander Allison[?] from seeds brought home by Isabel Fraser[?], with the vines first fruiting in 1910. It was initially grown in domestic gardens, but commercial planting began in the 1940s. New Zealand is now the leading producer of kiwifruit, followed by France, the United States, Italy, Spain, and Japan. Of course, kiwifruits are still produced in its birth place in China though China never made it to the top 10 list of kiwifruit producing countries. In China, they are now grown mainly in the mountainous area upstream of the Chang Jiang. They are also grown in other parts of China including Sichuan and Taiwan.

The kiwifruit was previously called the "Chinese gooseberry", based on the flavor and colour of its flesh. However, New Zealand growers began calling it the kiwifruit in 1962 to give it more marketing appeal, and in 1974 the name kiwifruit was adopted as the trade name. In Hong Kong, the plant's Chinese ancestry is forgotten and the fruit is called by a

There are 94 recorded species of kiwifruit, but only the following are cultivated for their fruit:

  • Actinidia chinensis, also called Actinidia deliciosa
  • Actinidia arguta, Kokuwa or Tara Vine - smaller and with green edible skins
  • Actinidia kolomikta, Kolomicta or Arctic Beauty
  • Actinidia polygama, Silver Vine

External links and References

  • Purdue University NewCROP (http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/kiwifruit_ars)
  • NCBI's taxonomy browser (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Taxonomy/Browser/wwwtax.cgi?mode=Undef&name=kiwifruit&srchmode=1&keep=1&a=Go&lvl=3) (as of August 1 2002)

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