Hardy Kiwi (Actinidia arguta and Actinidia kolomikta) is a perennial vine that produces berry- or grape-sized fruit similar to kiwifruit in taste and appearance. The vigorous vine can grow to over 100 feet high into trees if allowed.
It’s also referred to as arctic kiwi, siberian kiwi, manchurian kiwi, manchurian gooseberry, northern kiwi and baby kiwi.
Often sweeter than the kiwifruit, hardy kiwifruit can be eaten whole and need not be peeled.
Where It Grows
Hardy kiwi is native to Russian Siberia, Japan, Korea and Northern China. The fast-growing, climbing vine of Actinidia arguta is very hardy (hence the name hardy kiwi), and is capable of surviving slow temperature drops to -34°C (-30°F), although young shoots can be vulnerable to frost in the spring. Actinidia kolomikta (also called Manchurian gooseberry) is the hardiest species in the genus Actinidia, at least down to about −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter.
Note: Hardy kiwifruit may smother neighboring trees if plantings are abandoned.
Why We Like It
It’s a kiwi for colder climates! What’s not to like about that?
- Hardy kiwi produces excellent sweet fruit 25mm across that can be eaten fresh off the vine
- The fruit can also be made into juice, by itself or mixed with other juices.
- You can puree the fruit and dry it to make fruit “leather”
- The fruit contains up to 5 times the vitamin C content of blackcurrants
- It’s said that the fruits can be stored in root-cellar-like conditions (just above freezing and at 95% humidity) for up to nine months
- The plant is rich in sap and this can be tapped and drunk in the spring
- The plant also provides a dense seasonal shade with its thick cover of leaves in the spring, summer and fall.
- The hardy kiwi fits a niche very similar to grape, but is less afflicted with diseases or pests (beyond Japanese Beetles) in the U.S.
- Again, it’s a kiwi that can grow in the cold!
Where To Get It
Before you buy keep in mind, because A. arguta and A. kolomikta are dioecious a male pollenizer plant is required for the wild vines and most of the cultivars. You need one male vine for up to eight female vines. Also, watch out for cats. They love to eat the plant!
Make sure you buy A. arguta and A. kolomikta and not A. chinensis which will not survive cold winters.