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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Actinidia (Kiwifruit genus)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Asterids > Order: Ericales > Family: Actinidiaceae

About 57 species, native to temperate eastern Asia, including southeastern Siberia, China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Indochina. Three species are cultivated in southern Africa, including Kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa).

Species cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).

Actinidia deliciosa (Kiwifruit)

Native to the hills of southwestern China. Kiwifruit only came under cultivation in the 20th Century. Although it is native to China, it was New Zealand that pioneered its cultivation. Actinidia deliciosa was previously considered a synonym of Actinidia chinensis.

Actinidia deliciosa (Kiwifruit)
Actinidia chinensis

Similar to Actinidia deliciosa but it has smaller, more rounded fruit and soft fur. Its indigenous distribution is in the low-lying southeastern region of China.

Actinidia arguta (Hardy Kiwi, Arguta, Baby Kiwi or Grape Kiwi)

Plants are able to withstand colder temperatures than those of A. chinensis. Skins are green and smooth and can be eaten; fruit are smaller than those of Kiwi Fruit.


The following species are also cultivated for their fruit but I am not sure whether they have been cultivated in southern Africa: Actinidia kolomikta (Kolomicta or Arctic Beauty) and Actinidia polygama (Silver Vine).



  • Sauer, J.D. 1993. Historical geography of crop plants - a select roster. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.