22 March, 2006

The Brief Tale Of My Chocolate Vine

I mentioned it yesterday, but given it's colourful addition to our life, I think it deserves to have its story told. So, in honour of the "beginning" of spring, I bring you the tale of Akebia-Quinata.

The spring after we moved into our house, we created a Resting Arbor in the backyard. Our deck is up to the second story, which gives us a full story underneath the deck. You will see some people use this space for storage. We call those people "nasty." Because it just looks trashy to have gas cans, old folding chairs and lawn supplies piled willy-nilly under a full story deck. But maybe that's just me. Moving on...

We hung a porch swing and built a lattice wall for a climbing vine. (And by "we", I mean "Tim".) I has always intended to plant honeysuckle there but we were at Lowe's one day and saw these little bitty purple flowers on a plant. The plastic Plant Identification Tongue said we were looking at "Chocolate Vine akebia quinata". It met our light requirements for the growing area. It had purple flowers that smelled like chocoloate. They drew bats, which I love. Bats eat mosquitos. Okay, right there I was sold. But the little vine was teeny tiny. So we bought three. When we got them home and planted them they looked even teeny tinier. So Tim went to the store and bought two more. We crossed our fingers in hopes that they would grow.

Then Quinn dug one up. Repeatedly. We kept finding poor little Mr. Akebia in various places throughout the yard, with his roots attached. Tim faithfully replanted the thing, but we didn't think we'd have any luck. They hung in there. The one day at work when I was bored I looked it up on the internet. It seems that while Lowe's called the plants by their more inviting English name--you have to admit that Chocolate Vine sounds rather enticing--the purple flower has another name. Japanese Kudzu. Yes.

WE CANNOT STOP THESE VINES. At least six times a summer Tim has to cut the vines back hard, or they completely surround our deck chair and work their tendrils INTO THE GRILL. Fire doesn't kill them. Nothing kills the Akebia. It's beautiful, but unstoppable. Good thing we planted extra.

If any of you would like your own unstoppable (and hard to find in stores) Chocolate Vine, I'm sure that I can supply you with a cutting very easily. But I warn you, it's like the government. It grows at an ungodly pace and gets its tendrils into everything.


At 2:32 PM, March 22, 2006, Blogger Vol Abroad said...

Oh no. That's horrible. There should be a warning.

I've been fighting Virginia Creeper in my back garden since I moved in. It is pretty in the Fall, but that's it. It gets into everything. But it's sold all over the UK as a garden plant - without any warning.

At 2:59 PM, March 22, 2006, Anonymous Crystal said...

The next time you have to cut the vine back, if you really want to get rid of it, paint the fresh cut with Round-Up. It will travel to the roots and not kill any other plants around it.

There is a beautiful type of honeysuckle with tri colored blooms, I think it is called "Flame Honeysuckle"(Lonicera something something). I will look it up and send you the correct name and information. It will do all the things your akebia does, but in a nicer Southern way.

At 3:06 PM, March 22, 2006, Anonymous crystal said...

Lonicera Heckrottii-Gold Flame Honeysuckle. Google it for pictures. Just gorgeous.

At 4:08 PM, March 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In good growing conditions (hot and humid--think lower Alabama in July) a single kudzu vine can grow 18" in a single day. Yup, that's fast enough to actually see it grow. It is a nasty invasive exotic and I'm stunned that Lowe's sold it.

And it's not only bats it attracts, snakes too.

There's an old joke: You know how to plant kudzu? Drop it and run.


At 9:17 AM, March 23, 2006, Blogger Malia said...

No thanks, you can keep your Kudzu to yourself! I think I'll get some of that Gold Flame Honeysuckle, that sounds wonderful!

At 11:48 PM, March 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then Quinn dug one up. Repeatedly. We kept finding poor little Mr. Akebia in various places throughout the yard, with his roots attached. Tim faithfully replanted the thing, but we didn't think we'd have any luck. They hung in there.

That's nothing. This guy (air potato, which is a huge pest in the eastern US) grew on my wife's desk for a year. Literally, it sat ON her desk -- no water, no soil. That's one tough mofo.


btw -- kudzu is an altogether different beast from akebia, and it actually makes a really nice hanging plant.

-- Steve K.

At 2:16 PM, May 16, 2008, Blogger Xan said...

Did you know, if you got another species of akebia (they come with white blooms and, I know, ANOTHER? ARE YOU CRAZY?!) it will produce fruit? Very seedy, like pommegranit, but if you separate the seeds out of, what's left is really quite tastey and healthy. Hey, if it's going to take over the deck, the least it can do is earn it's keep!


At 3:43 AM, October 07, 2008, Anonymous Mary said...

this wretched vine was planted by my neighbour here in Australia, some years ago - unfortunately it loves my side of the fence and I spend 9 months of the year battling to keep it out of my trees. today I have taken to it with a machete and Round Up - if it dies as quickly as it grows I'm pulling up a chair, grabbing a cuppa and settling down to watch the best show around!

At 5:04 PM, July 20, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Akebia Quintata is not Japanese Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) Kudzu is a legume with pea-like flowers and a three lobed leaaaaf not a five lobed leaf. Unless your plant was mislabeled. I have an Akebia Quintata - purchased after seeing a very attractive somewhat architecural adult plant growing at the county courthouse in Kent.

At 1:42 PM, December 19, 2015, Blogger Lissa said...

Glad I found this posting and comments as I had just been reading about the edible qualities of the plant in Fukuokas Food Forest and was looking for a supplier in Australia. Maybe not :/

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At 1:05 PM, July 05, 2018, Blogger Fero said...

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