TREES & plants

Five-leaved akebia

Leaves of five-leaved akebia.

Five-leaved akebia is a vigorous vine and may grow aggressively enough that it needs to be controlled.  Akebia has invasive traits that enable it to spread aggressively. This plant is under observation and may be listed on official invasive species lists in the near future. Review of risks should be undertaken before selecting this vine for planting sites. 

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name: 
Akebia quinata
All Common Names: 
Five-leaved akebia, chocolate vine
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Vine
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Container, 
  • Massing, 
  • Screen, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Large plant (more than 24 inches)
Light Exposure: 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily), 
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Dry soil, 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Late spring
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant, 
  • Purple
Shape or Form: 
  • Vining
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
More Information: 

Size and Method of Climbing

Five-leaved akebia can grow 25 to 30 feet long.  It is a twining vine. 

Twining vines climb by twisting their stems or leaf stalks around a support.  This type of vine grows well on trellises, arbors, wires or chain-link fences.

Plant Care

Part sun to full shade (very shade tolerant).  Tolerant of drought and poor soils.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious pests.

Five-leaved akebia is a vigorous vine and may grow aggressively enough that it needs to be controlled.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China and Japan.

Leaf description

The alternate leaves are palmately compound, with 5 leaflets each.  Each leaflet is oblong with an entire margin.

Newly emerging leaves are tinged with purple, then change to green in summer.  Leaves stay green in fall.

Flower description

Male and female flowers are borne on the same plant.  Each flower is small, but they are held in clusters of 2 to 5.  The dark purple flowers are fragrant.

Fruit description

Akebia has a fleshy pod-like fruit (a follicle).  The oblong fruit is 2 to 4 inches long, purple on the outside and white inside.

Fruit is not always produced.  It is thought that flowers on one plant may need to pollinated by flowers from another plant.

Cultivars and their differences

Purple Rose five-leaved akebia (Akebia quinata 'Purple Rose'): This cultivar has reddish-purple flowers.

Shirobana five-leaved akebia (Akebia quinata 'Shirobana'):  A white-flowered cultivar that produces dark purple fruit.

Silver Bells five-leaved akebia (Akebia quinata 'Silver Bells'): Flowers are light pink to almost white and fruit are blue.

Akebia quinata or Five-leaved akebia