Actinidia deliciosa (Kiwifruit, Chinese gooseberry)
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> Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Asterids > Order: Ericales > Family: Actinidiaceae > Genus: Actinidia
Kiwifruit only came under cultivation in the 20th
Century. It is native to China but New Zealand is the country that pioneered
Actinidia deliciosa was once mainly known as Chinese
but through marketing by New Zealand fruit growers, it is now known as Kiwifruit,
which is actually quite a good name because its furry, round shape is
reminiscent of the appearance of a Kiwi. The name change also reflects its
history because it is native to southeastern China but it was the New
Zealanders that developed cultivars and marketed it.
History of domestication
||First recorded planting, by
foreigners living in the Yangtze Valley, China.
||Seeds first grown on New
Zealand's North Island. By 1910 plants were being grown not only in New
Zealnd but also in California.
||By the 1930's New Zealanders had
developed named cultivars, 'Hayward' being the main cultivar. Not much was going on in California.
||Widescale planting of Kiwifruit
took place on North Island of New Zealand after the 2nd World War.
||New Zealand monopolised the
market till the late 1960's when California started growing it on a large
||Since the 1980's other countries
such as Chile and Australia have also entered the market.
Advantageous properties of Kiwifruit
- It contains high Vitamin C levels, evidently exceeding those of any citrus
- It has a proteolytic enzyme that has meat tenderizer type properties.
- It can survive for long periods after picking. After reaching full size,
the fruit can take as long as two months to ripen but this can be speeded up
by exposing them to ethylene gas which in a household situation can be achieved by keeping them
enclosed with bananas or apples. They can be kept 4-6 months in cold
storage. These long storage periods are particularly favourable to New
Zealand growers because they are so far from the European and American
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.