Fiveleaf akebia (Akebia quinata), also known as chocolate vine, is a woody perennial plant that grows either as a twining vine or a groundcover. It has slender stems that are green when young and brown at maturity. The leaves are dull blue-green in color and alternate along the stem. Each leaf is divided into five stalked leaflets that meet at a central juncture. Leaflets are 1½ to 3 inches long and are notched at the tip. The flowers are reddish to purple-brown, about 1 inch across, and have a sweet fragrance likened to chocolate. Flowering occurs in springtime in the United States (March-April). The fruits, if produced at all, are large, soft, edible sausage-shaped pods 2¼ to 4 inches in length, that ripen in late September to early October in the United States. The inside of the pod has a whitish pulpy core with many tiny black seeds. Akebia is deciduous in cooler climates but may remain evergreen in warmer regions, such as Louisiana.
Fiveleaf akebia is a vigorous vine that grows as a groundcover and climbs shrubs and trees by twining. Once established, its dense growth crowds out native plants. Akebia is shade and drought tolerant and can invade many types of habitats, preferring lighter, well drained soils and sunny to partially shaded environs, spreading primarily by vegetative means and capable of growing twenty to forty feet in a single growing season. Seeds of akebia may be dispersed by birds. Long distance spread of akebia is largely through human activities.
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