Actinidia polygama

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Actinidia polygama
Actinidia polygama1SHSU.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Actinidiaceae
Genus: Actinidia
A. polygama
Binomial name
Actinidia polygama
(Siebold & Zucc.) Maxim.

Actinidia polygama (also known as silver vine,[1] matatabi (マタタビ), and cat powder) is a species of kiwifruit in the Actinidiaceae family. It grows in the mountainous areas of Japan and China at elevations between 500 and 1,900 metres (1,600 and 6,200 ft).

Silver vine can reach up to 5–6 metres (16–20 ft) high at maturity. It is a deciduous climber and tolerates temperatures down to −30 °C (−22 °F).[2] The petiole leaves are silver and white in color and 6–13 centimetres (2.4–5.1 in) long and 4–9 centimetres (1.6–3.5 in) wide. These colorful markings make the plant identifiable from afar, until the flowering season when the leaves turn completely green.

A silver vine plant with the eponymous silver markings on its leaves

The flowering season lasts from late June to early July, in which the plant bears white flowers about 2.5 centimetres (1 in) in diameter. The longevity of an individual flower is 2–3 days, when the plant also starts to develop small, yellow to yellow-red, egg-shaped, fleshy, and multiseeded fruits, which mature from September to October. The fruit is about 1.5 centimetres (0.59 in) wide and 3–4 centimetres (1.2–1.6 in) long. The inside of the fruit resembles the common kiwifruit, but it is orange in color rather than green.

The silver vine plant requires moist, well-drained soil, and partial shade to full sun. This fast-growing vine makes for good cover on a fence or trellis. It is becoming increasingly popular as an edible fruit crop.


Traditional medicine[edit]

Silver vine has been used for its medicinal benefits for centuries,[3] as a preventive health aid, it is still commonly used as an alternative therapy for hypertension, arthritic pain,[4] and was investigated for potential to induce apoptosis in in vitro promyelocytic leukemia.[5] In traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, it has been used for a wide range of health problems, including:

Heart tonic Rheumatism[4] Circulatory stimulant
Cystitis Arthritic pain[4] Hypertension
Cholesterol reduction Liver protection[6] Kidney disease
Cardiac ailments[7] Stroke

In Korean Buddhism, silver vine was soaked in traditional Korean sauces and used for diuresis, alleviation of pain, hypertension, genital troubles[citation needed], and bronchitis.[8]

It is said that:
"Old, weary travelers, (come) back to life to eat the fruit of [silver vine] and then continue their journey."[9]

Silver vine leaves also have a high content of flavonoids, terpenoids, saponins,[7] beta-carotene,[10] vitamin C and vitamin E.


The fruit in the "acorn" shape can be salted and eaten raw, fried in oil, added to rice, or mixed with sesame seeds and mayonnaise to top salads.[citation needed] The fruit may also be fermented to make Matatabi sake and miso; fermented into a fruit wine; or extracted for juice.[citation needed] The leaves, buds, and stems can also be ground into a powder or cut, steamed, and steeped to make tea.[citation needed] Adding mint or sugar can give variations in the tea.[citation needed]


Grinding the leaves and stems into a coarser grind than needed for the tea makes Matatabi grass, which is used as bath salts. The vine is used as material for folk crafts, and the sap is collected to make lotions.


A cat under the effect of Actinidia polygama

Silver vine has long been known to elicit euphoric response in cats.[11] The reaction to silver vine is similar to the catnip response, but appears to be more intense.[12] Silver vine is an alternative to catnip, and many cats which do not react to catnip will respond positively to silver vine powder made from dried fruit galls.[12] Typical behaviors include rolling, chin and cheek rubbing, drooling, and licking. The effect usually lasts between five and 30 minutes, but cats are typically unresponsive to the plant for one or more hours.[13]

A study published in January 2021 suggests that felines are specifically attracted to the iridoids nepetalactol and nepetalactone, present in silver vine and catnip, respectively.[14] The compounds were found to repel mosquitos, and it is hypothesized that rubbing against the plants provides the cats with a chemical coat that protects them against mosquito bites.[14][15]


  1. ^ Lee, Sangtae; Chang, Kae Sun, eds. (2015). English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. p. 338. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Retrieved 15 March 2019 – via Korea Forest Service.
  2. ^ "Actinidia polygama - (Siebold.&Zucc.)Maxim". Plants For A Future. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  3. ^ Konoshima, 1963
  4. ^ a b c Kim, YK; Kang, HJ; Lee, KT; Choi, JG; Chung, SH (2003). "Anti-inflammation activity of Actinidia polygama". Archives of Pharmacal Research. 26 (12): 1061–6. doi:10.1007/bf02994759. PMID 14723341. S2CID 7434195.
  5. ^ Yoshizawa, Yuko; Fukiya, Yoshihiro; Izumi, Yoshikatsu; Hata, Keishi; Iwashita, Jun; Murofushi, Noboru; Abe, Tatsuya (2002). "Induction of Apoptosis with an Extract of Actinidia polygama Fruit in the Promyelocytic Leukemia Cell Line HL-60" (PDF). doi:10.1248/jhs.48.303. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Sakurai, H. (2005b.). Hepatoprotective effects of tea and extract powders from Silver Vine leaves. 26th World Congress and Exhibition of the ISF. Poster presentation, Prague, Czech Republic
  7. ^ a b Sakurai, H. (2005). Antihyperlipemic and antitumor effects of components of matatabi leaves. 26th World Congress and Exhibition of the ISF. Poster presentation, Prague, Czech Republic
  8. ^ Kim, H.; Song, M-J.; Potter, D. (2005). "Medicinal efficacy of plants utilized as temple food in traditional Korean Buddhism". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 104 (1–2): 32–46. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.08.041. PMID 16216457.
  9. ^ 昔、疲れきった旅人が、マタタビの実を食べて生気を取り戻し、意気洋々とまた旅を続けたという名の由来が次に続く。
  10. ^ McGhie, T. K.; Ainge, G. D. (2002). "Color in fruit of the genus Actinidia: Carotenoid and chlorophyll compositions". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 50 (1): 117–121. doi:10.1021/jf010677l. PMID 11754554.
  11. ^ (Siebold.&Zucc.)Maxim. (2012). "Actinidia polygama - (Siebold.&Zucc.)Maxim". PFAF Database. PFAF. Retrieved 2015-01-09.
  12. ^ a b Bol, Sebastiaan (16 March 2017). "Responsiveness of cats (Felidae) to silver vine (Actinidia polygama), Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and catnip (Nepeta cataria)". BMC Veterinary Research. 13 (1): 70. doi:10.1186/s12917-017-0987-6. PMC 5356310. PMID 28302120.
  13. ^ Uenoyama, Reiko; Miyazaki, Tamako; Hurst, Jane L.; Beynon, Robert J.; Adachi, Masaatsu; Murooka, Takanobu; Onoda, Ibuki; Miyazawa, Yu; Katayama, Rieko; Yamashita, Tetsuro; Kaneko, Shuji; Nishikawa, Toshio; Miyazaki, Masao (2021). "The characteristic response of domestic cats to plant iridoids allows them to gain chemical defense against mosquitoes". Science Advances. 7 (4): eabd9135. doi:10.1126/sciadv.abd9135. S2CID 231681044.
  14. ^ a b Moutinho, Sofia; 2021; Pm, 2:00 (2021-01-20). "Why cats are crazy for catnip". Science. Retrieved 2021-01-28.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Wu, Katherine J. (2021-01-20). "Your Cat Isn't Just Getting High Off Catnip". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-01-28.