The Kiwi Plant: Basic Facts
Although most people have seen the brown-skinned, fuzzy fruit known as the kiwi in the supermarket, many may not know a lot about the kiwi plant itself. Native to Asia, the kiwi plant is originally from southwestern China but there are several different known types of fuzzy kiwi that can also be found in Russia, New Zealand and Japan. Even though there are different types, all kiwi plants are green and have a similar look and the same great kiwi taste.
All varieties of the kiwi plant grow in the form of a vine and grow at a very fast rate. Most kiwi plants require plenty of sunlight and water to sustain life and growth. However, there are a few varieties that can grow in colder climates. To name a few, the Arctic Beauty and Arguta Hardy kiwis are known to grow in lightly shaded areas and colder climactic conditions.
Nutritionally, the kiwi fruit is packed with vitamins and is an excellent source of vitamin C. In fact, the kiwi fruit contains about ten times more vitamin C than lemons. One cup of kiwi fruit will provide you with 273% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, and it is also high in vitamin K, potassium, vitamin E, and copper. One cup of kiwi fruit also contains a mere 108 calories, making it a good choice of snack for someone who is dieting.
Studies have proven that eating kiwi fruit has significant health benefits for those suffering from a variety of illnesses as well. Eating kiwi has been shown to improve asthma in children. Other respiratory benefits from eating kiwi were shown for wheezing, nighttime cough, shortness of breath, and runny nose. Age-related macular degeneration was significantly reduced as well in people who consumed three or more servings of fruit per day, including kiwis. Kiwis also are a healthy source of antioxidants, helping your body to ward off infections. Finally, because they are high in fiber, eating kiwis can guard against some colorectal cancers.
Kiwi vines can produce fruit within two to five years after being planted and they have a life expectancy of over fifty years, making them a highly profitable fruit over a period of many years. The kiwi has been known to produce up to 200 pounds of fruit per year. They require a minimum of 240 days without frost per year, and they are sensitive to extreme temperature shifts.
Kiwi plants can grow in many different types of soil but make sure that the soil is well-drained and watered frequently. They prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0-6.5. Growing a kiwi is not difficult provided the temperature and moisture are favorable. They can grow at such a rapid rate that they fall over and spread about 30 feet. They are known to grow on trees for support but you can also use different types of support such as a fencing or trellis to help support this beautiful vine. A fertilizer rich in nitrogen should be added early in the growing season, and pruning must be done to encourage fruit growth.
This versatile fruit has been used in many applications such as salads, ice cream, various wines, jams, and pies just to name a few. It is also often eaten raw, peeled and cut into slices or scooped out from the skin. Additionally, many cosmetics companies have been using in external skin care products. While the kiwi is known for its pleasing and very distinct aroma, it also contains fatty acids and antioxidants known for their anti-aging properties.