is the edible berry of the woody vine Actinidia deliciosa
and hybrids between this and other species in the genus Actinidia. The Actinidia is native to South of China. The most common cultivars of kiwifruit are oval, about the size of a large hen's egg (5 - 8 cm / 2 - 3 in long and 4.5 - 5.5 cm / 1¾ - 2 in diameter). It has a fibrous, dull brown-green skin and bright green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. The fruit has a soft texture and a unique flavour, and today is a commercial crop in several countries, mainly in Italy, China, and New Zealand. Kiwifruit is also known as the Chinese Gooseberry. The fruit was renamed For export marketing reasons, it was briefly renamed melonette
in the 1950s, and then renamed again, by New Zealand exporters to kiwifruit
. This latter name comes from the kiwi, a flightless bird and New Zealand's national symbol, and also a colloquial name for the New Zealand people. To avoid confusion with the bird and the people, the fruit is always called "kiwifruit" in New Zealand, Ireland and Australia. However, in some other countries, kiwifruit is often referred to colloquially as "kiwi".
This fruit had a long history before it was owned commercialised as kiwifruit and therefore had many other older names. Kiwifruit was originally known by its Chinese name, yang tao, meaning sunny peach, or Mihou Tao, meaning macaque peach. After it was introduced to New Zealand by evangelist Isabel Fraser, people in New Zealand thought it had a gooseberry flavour and began to call it the Chinese gooseberry, although it is not related to the Grossulariaceae (gooseberry) family.
New Zealand exported the fruit to the United States in the 1950s. Among the exporters was the prominent produce company Turners and Growers, who were calling the berries melonettes
, because the name Chinese gooseberry had negative political connotations due to the Cold War, and to further distinguish it from real gooseberries, which are prone to a fungus called anthracnose. An American importer, Norman Sondag of San Francisco, complained that the name "melonette" is as bad as "Chinese gooseberry" from the marketing perspective, because melons and berries were both subject to high import tariffs, and instead asked for a short Maori name that quickly connoted New Zealand. In June 1959, during a meeting of Turners and Growers management in Auckland, Jack Turner suggested the name kiwifruit which was adopted and later became the industry-wide name. In the 1960s and 1970s, Frieda Caplan, founder of Los Angeles-based Frieda's Finest (aka Frieda's Inc./Frieda's Specialty Produce) played a key role in popularizing kiwifruit in the United States, convincing supermarket produce managers to carry the odd-looking fruit.
Most New Zealand kiwifruits are now marketed under the brand-name label Zespri which is trademarked by a marketing company domiciled in New Zealand, ZESPRI International. The branding move also served to distinguish New Zealand kiwifruit from fruit produced by other countries who could cash in on the "Kiwi" name, as it was not trademarked.
Cultivars of Kiwifruit
Almost all kiwifruit in commerce belong to a few cultivars of Actinidia deliciosa: 'Hayward', 'Chico', and 'Saanichton 12'. The fruit of these cultivars are practically indistinguishable from each other and match the description of a standard kiwifruit. Gold Kiwifruit or "Hinabelle", with yellow flesh and a sweeter, less acidic flavour resembling a tropical fruit salad, is a new Cultivar Group produced by the New Zealand Crown Research Institute, HortResearch and marketed worldwide in increasing volumes. Some wild vines in India have yellow fruit but are small and not commercially viable. Seeds from these plants were imported to New Zealand in 1987 and the company took 11 years to develop the new fruit through cross-pollination and grafting with green kiwifruit vines. Gold Kiwifruit have a smooth, bronze skin, a pointed cap at one end and distinctive golden yellow flesh with a less tart and more tropical flavour than green kiwifruit. It has a higher market price than green kiwifruit. It is less hairy than the green cultivars, so can be eaten whole after rubbing off the thin, fluffy coat. While the skin of kiwifruit is often removed before serving, it is completely edible.
Female flower of kiwifruit