Five-leaf Akebia
Akebia quinataLardizabalaceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerHabitat
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • Chocolate vine

The Plant:

  • A twisting, deciduous woody vine.

The Leaves:

  • leaves palmately compound
  • 5 leaflets attached to a single leaf stalk
  • obovate
  • papery
  • round base
  • round tips

The Stem:

  • round stems
  • grayish-brown
  • small round lenticels

The Flowers:

  • Fragrant purple or white three-petaled flowers in axillary racemes. Blooms from April to May.

The Fruits:

  • long purplish pods
  • split open (dehiscent)
  • white core with tiny black seeds arranged in irregular rows

The Habitat:

  • generalist
  • full sun to partial shade
  • moist, fertile soils
  • tolerates shade and drought


  • birds may disperse fruits, if fruits are present
  • vegetatively by rooting of stem nodes
  • yard waste and soil disturbance

Key ID Features:

  • twining vine or groundcover
  • palmately divided
  • 5 leaflets
  • young leaves with purple tinge
  • mature leaves blue-green
  • chocolate-purple 1 inch wide flowers
  • fragrant
  • long purplish pods


  • Rapid growth once established, spreads by vegetative and seed dispersal. Five-leaf Akebia can grow as a dense groundcover or smother trees and shrubs as it grows over them. Introduction and spread of Akebia is largely due to inadvertent human activities. Planting as a ornamental vine is common sources of garden escapes. This vine takes about 5 years to mature into a fruit bearing plant, though fruits and flowers are relatively uncommon.
  • On Nantucket, this species is known from a single site where it has been since the early 1990s. Plants have spread to the other side of the street , perhaps via mowing.

Growth Form: Vine

Origin: Japan, China, Korea

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Likely Invasive

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Does not meet criteria

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: no

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston