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a genus of plants of the family Actinidiaceae, climbing shrubs (lianas) ascending high on trees, having leaves without stipules. Actinidia plants are dioecious, with unisexual (less often bisexual) white, yellow, or reddish flowers and fruit in the form of green or greenish-yellow berries. About 35 species exist in eastern Asia. In the USSR there are five species found in the forests of the Far East. The edible berries, very rich in ascorbic acid, are used as food (either raw, boiled, or dried) or as a confection.
In the USSR the Amur gooseberry (Actinidia kolomikta) is the principal cultivated species; it is a very hardy vitamin-rich plant (the fruit contains about 0.7 percent vitamin C, 4.2–9.8 percent sugars, 0.78–2.48 percent organic acid, and 0.73 percent pectin). The berries are eaten raw or in preserves; they are also used as preventive and therapeutic medicine in home remedies for scurvy, tuberculosis, and other diseases. The bower actinidia (Actinidia arguta) produces fruit with a pineapple scent; its vitamin C content is only a fraction of that of Actinidia kolomikta. Actinidia arguta is cultivated as a decorative plant. The silvervine (Actinidia polygama) has a large fruit that becomes edible after frosts. Actinidia giraldii, a species close to Actinidia arguta, has a large fruit up to 4 cm in diameter; it is never cultivated. Actinidia sugawarana, similar to Actinidia polygama, is also uncultivated. Of interest for cultivation in the USSR is the Chinese actinidia (Actinidia chinensis), a decorative plant with a large aromatic fruit up to 5 cm long. Cultivated species are reproduced with seeds and cuttings in well-drained soil rich in leaf humus. I. V. Michurin produced valuable new varieties of Actinidia —the pineapple actinidia, the Klara Tsetkin, the turnip-shaped actinidia, and others.
REFERENCESEnikeev, Kh. K. and I. N. Shashkin, Vostochnoaziatskie vidy kostochkovykh i aktinidii. Moscow, 1937.
Derev’ia i kustarniki SSSR, vol. 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.