Most of us are used to being able to go to the local grocery store, walk to the produce department and pick up some kiwifruit. But where did it come from? And why do we call it kiwi? Yangtze River Valley Map - Map is borrowed with permission from the Encyclopedia of the Earth Website http://www.eoearth.org/article/Yangtze_River

Actinidia deliciosa is native to north eastern China, specifically the Yangtze River valley and the Zhejiang Province coast. The first kiwifruit seeds to be relocated from China were taken by missionaries to New Zealand in 1906. The seeds were cultivated and by 1910, vines were producing fruits. The plant Map of New Zealand - Map borrowed with permission from the Wealth Report Website http://www.qwealthreport.com/New_Zealand_Offshore_Trusts.phpquickly grew in popularity and soon enough, companies in Italy, South Africa, and Chile began commercially growing the vine. However, New Zealand still remains the largest distributing country of kiwifruit, sending fruits to the United States, Australia, South America and parts of Europe. We can still give credit, though, to the New Zealanders for giving this fruit its modern, common name. For some time, it was called the Chinese gooseberry because people knew that it originated in China and it reminded them on a gooseberry. It was not until 1959 that it started being called “kiwifruit.” Turners andTurners and Growers Export Company Logo - Picture borrowed with permission from Terry Brown of Turners and Growers http://www.turnersandgrowers.com/ Growers, a fruit-vegetable export company in New Zealand, wanted to give the product a more marketable appeal. They believed that Kiwi bird - Photo borrowed with permission from the Birds of Eden Website http://www.birdsofeden.co.za/index.php?comp=article&op=view&id=213the hairy skin of the fruit resembled the feathers of the Kiwi bird, a flightless bird native to New Zealand. They were not the only ones to name this plant for the skin of the fruit. The scientific name, Actinidia deliciosa, means “tough and hardy” referring to the skin and “the luxurious” referring to the succulent taste of the fruit. As kiwifruit became more popular in the United States, the second half of the name began to be dropped. Because we do not see the kiwi bird, we can simply call the fruit "kiwi".

Who knew the history of a fruit could be so interesting!

Home      Habitat