Plant Common Name
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Akebia is a genus of approximately five species of woody climbers native to China, Japan and Korea. They are evergreen, deciduous or semi-evergreen twining vines grown for their pleasant, spicy or sweetly scented flowers.
The medium green, compound leaves are shaped like a hand and may have three, five or seven leaflets. The leaves alternate on the thin stems. Generally the foliage has a bronze hue when young. The marginally attractive fragrant flowers are borne on unbranched stems among the foliage. The flowers appear in spring and are either male or female. The smaller male flowers tend to be along the stem tips and the larger female flowers are below them. The blooms are cup-shaped with three broad petals that may be rose, mauve or purple. These are followed by odd, sausage-shaped, fleshy blue to purple berries.
The most commonly grown species is Akebia quinata, the five-leafed Akebia or chocolate vine. It is deciduous, has five leaflets, is aggressively vigorous and the flowers are brown-mauve. This species is considered invasive in some parts of the world. Three-leafed Akebia (Akebia trifoliata) is another popular deciduous species for cultivation. Its leaves have three rounded leaflets and its flowers are dark purple. The spring blooms are followed by long, purple fruit.
Culture and hardiness vary by species. Generally, Akebia are easy to grow. They tolerate most soils with good drainage and regular moisture. Most will grow in full sun or shade. They generally do not tolerate the hot, humid conditions of subtropical and tropical areas. All are vines, so they require support, such as a trellis, fence or arbor. Prune them after they flower.
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade
Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring
China, Japan, Korea
Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Clay, Loam, Sand
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Pink, Rose, Bronze
Blue, Purple, Violet
Container, Groundcover, Hanging Basket, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Vine
Sharp or Has Thorns