This is the scholarly name for the kiwi fruit-bearing plant, that came from Southern China in rather recent times. Worldwide, there are three genera and about as many species as there are days in a year. China boasts all three genera and about two months-worth in number of species. The Chinese gave various evocative names to the fruit, such as ma-caque peach, macaque pear, strange fruit and hairy bush fruit.
They can be trees, shrubs or woody vines. The flowers have a few, 2, 3, sometimes 5 imbricate sepals and 4 or 5 imbricate petals. Individual plants are either male or female. Only the latter bear fruit, if and only when pollenated by a male plant. At least one male pollenizer is required for each three to eight female vines. And what about the pollen carriers?
Bees, one rushes to answer. However, the actinidia flowers are unattractive to bees. Gro-wers thus have to engage in saturation pollination, using large bee populations with hives placed smack into orchards so that bees cannot avoid visiting these flowers due to intense competition for all flowers within flight distance.
Readers are surely familiar with the fruit, the kiwi. It has outstanding nutritional value, if anything because it is rich in vitamin C. Its name was coined by advertisers. The fruit as indeed borrowed from China by New Zealanders. At the very beginning of the twentieth century, seeds were introduced in New Zealand by Mary Isabel Fraser, then principal of Wanganui Girls' College. Hayward Wright developed the main cultivar Actinidia deliciosa 'Hayward' in Avondale, New Zealand about 1924. Initially grown in domestic gardens, commercial planting began in the 1940s. Now, the main producers are, in order, Italy, New Zealand and Chile.