An exceptionally vigorous climber, reaching in its native haunts the tops of large trees. Leaves dark lustrous green, 3 to 5 in. long, sometimes nearly as wide; broadly ovate or ovate-oblong, edged with unequal bristle-like teeth, the base rounded or sometimes heart-shaped; almost glabrous except for down on the veins and in their axils; stalk rose-coloured, sometimes bristly, 11⁄2 to 3 in. long. Flowers fragrant, produced in the leaf-axils, usually in clusters of three; each flower 3⁄4 in. across, its stalk slender, and 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long; sepals green, ovate-oblong, blunt; petals orbicular, white tinged with green, very concave and incurved, giving the flower a rather globular shape; stamens numerous, with dark purple anthers; the ovary has a short, stout style at the top of which about twenty stigmas radiate like the spokes of a wheel. Fruit an oblong, many-seeded, fleshy, greenish-yellow berry, nearly 1 in. long, with an insipid flavour, but eaten by the Japanese. Pith of young branches chambered. Bot. Mag., t. 7497 as A. polygama.
Native of China, Japan, and the Amur region. One of the strongest growing of the actinidias, this is also one of the hardiest. It flowers very well out-of-doors in numerous gardens in the south and west, and is hardy at Kew, flowering there in June and July. Although hermaphrodite as well as unisexual flowers are to be found on most plants, this species is effectively dioecious, a pollinator as well as a female plant being necessary if fruit is to be obtained.
var. cordifolia Dunn – Leaves ovate with a conspicuously heart-shaped base, more hairy than in the type; leaf-stalk purple. This, as well as the type, is sometimes grown in gardens as A. volubilis.
A. arguta is a very variable species. A. giraldii Diels, which is founded on Chinese specimens, differs from the type in its broader leaves and in other minor characters, and is distinct enough as seen in cultivation. But Li considers that it is part of the normal variation of A. arguta, into which he merges it in synonymy.
A. rufa (Sieb. & Zucc.) Planch. A. arguta var. rufa (Sieb. & Zucc.) Maxim. – Native of Japan and Korea, differing from the above in having the inflorescence and sepals covered with rusty-brown hairs.