Carolina Nature

Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of North Carolina

Five-leaf Akebia, Chocolate-vine (Akebia quinata)

Plantae>Magnoliophyta>Magnoliopsida>Ranunculales>Lardizabalaceae>Akebia quinata (Houttuyn) Decaisne

Five-leaf Akebia is a deciduous woody vine from China, Japan, and Korea, which is planted as an ornamental in North Carolina and occasionally escapes from cultivation. In recent years its invasive tendencies have become more apparent and some consider it to be a noxious weed.

Greensboro, Guilford Co., NC 5/15/10.

Akebia is very distinctive, with each leaf having 5 entire (untoothed) ovate leaflets, palmately arranged. Our only other vine with a similar leaf arrangement is Virginia Creeper, but this has coarsely toothed leaves. You can see a leaf of this in the background.

Greensboro, Guilford Co., NC 5/15/10.

Where it does become established, Akebia can densely cover large areas of the forest floor, preventing native plants from growing, and taking over entire trees, like a smaller version of Kudzu. Here it's giving Ailanthus a run for its money.

Greensboro, Guilford Co., NC 5/15/10.

More information:
PCA Alien Plant Working Group
UBC Botanical Garden
University of Connecticut

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