Kiwifruit, sometimes known as Chinese gooseberry, or simply “kiwi,” is thought to have been discovered in various regions of China and was considered a delicacy among royals.
Seeds from China were introduced to New Zealand in the 1900s and were exported to the United States in the 1950s.
Today, the most common variety is the Hayward, grown almost exclusively in California and originating from the first known plants exported from New Zealand.
Kiwis are fuzzy, brown, and about the size of a chicken egg, containing bright green interior fruit and tiny black seeds. The fruit grows on a woody vine that can reach up to 30 feet tall.
Types & Varieties
There are generally three types of kiwifruit: grocery store kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa), hardy kiwifruit (Actinidia arguta), and super-hardy kiwifruit (Actinidia kolomikta).
Grocery store kiwifruit (or “fuzzy kiwifruit”) is the largest, most edible and commonly available. Hardy kiwifruit, known as “bowerberry,” grows on trees that can grow up to 100 feet tall in the forests of Japan, China, Korea, and Siberia and can withstand colder temperatures.
The fruit is smooth-skinned, sweeter, resembles a grape, and is grown in clusters. The super-hardy kiwi is also smooth-skinned with even smaller fruit and can handle temperatures up to -40°F during the winter. It is sometimes referred to as the “arctic beauty kiwifruit.”
There are more than forty known varieties of kiwi, spanning the globe from California to New Zealand to Greece. New Zealand’s Hayward is the standard grown all over the world.
In areas where there are growing limits due to colder temperatures, the Saanicheton variety has been known to survive where the Hayward has not. Other well-known varieties include Elmwood, Dexter, Abbott, Tewi, Vincent, Matua, Tomuri, Chico, Allison, Bruno, Gracie, and Monty.