Kiwi is an exotic and tasty fruit that is quickly catching on in the United States, although it is far from a new discovery. Two types of Kiwi fruit are known: Actinidia arguta and Actinidia chinensis, the latter of which are the fruits sold in the markets and grown in warmer areas, such as California and Australia. Actinidia arguta is known as bower actinidia, tara vine, and yangtao, and is definitely not a new landscape plant. However, it is unclear whether a new fruiting strain of A. arguta has been promoted recently or whether A. arguta is being considered a new strain of A. chinensis.
The cut portions of the fruit in this variety resemble those of A. chinensis, but are about the size of, or slightly larger than, strawberries. A. arguta is a good vine to grow and has long been recommended for planting as an ornamental vine. Because the sexes are separate, if fruit is desired both a male plant and a female plant are necessary.
A. arguta fruit is considerably smaller than that of A. chinensis - A. arguta fruits are about 1 1/4 inches long, 3/4 inches diameter, have a circumference of about 2 1/2 inches. A pound would contain about 57 fruits. A typical kiwi fruit found in a grocery store is about 2 5/8 inches long, 2 1/8 inches wide, 6 1/4 inches in circumference, and weighs 4 ounces. Therefore, fruits of A. arguta are about 1/15 the weight of a typical kiwi fruit (A. chinensis). The skin on A. arguta is smooth so they should not have to be peeled.
Kiwi is a relatively convenient to grow, its plants can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. Today, more and more seed catalogs and nurseries are promoting this hardy kiwi as a "new exotic fruit that has 20 times more vitamin C than citrus fruit, and will produce up to 100 pounds of fruit per vine". And in 1987, Kiwi cultivation was made easier by a named cultivar introduced by Stark Brothers Nurseries: 'Issai". This variety is self-fruitful, making only a single plant necessary for fruit production.
Reference: J.L. Taylor, Michigan State University Hortopics Newsletter, August 1985. Hortopics Newsletter, (Kiwi Update) 1987.