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Fiveleaf akebia/Chocolate vine

(Akebia quinata)

Photo of fiveleaf akebia
Photo credit: Nancy Loewenstein

A deciduous vine that mainly reproduces vegetatively. Leaves are palmately compound with five round-obovate leaflets. Vines are green when young, turning brown as they age. Stems have small round lenticels. Plants are evergreen in warmer climates.

Overview

Other names for this plant include:
  • Common names: Fiveleaf
  • Scientific names: Akebia micrantha; Rajania quinata
Ecological threat:
  • It invades many types of habitats including forests, wetlands and disturbed areas.
  • Tolerates a wide range of conditions from full sun to full shade as well as being drought tolerant.
  • Decreases tree and shrub regeneration and establishment by shading and smothering.
  • Vigorously climbs up trees and forms a dense groundcover layer up to 1 foot deep.
  • It can grow up to 40 feet per year.
 Overview map of prohibited classification in WI
Prohibited (red) counties

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for Fiveleaf Akebia was based upon this literature review [PDF] developed by the department.

Identification

Leaves: Palmately compound with usually five oval leaflets, 1.5-3 inches long with smooth edges. Dark green in color above and glaucous below. Prominent mid-vein with a notched tip.

Flowers: Fragrant flowers faintly resemble chocolate. Flowers are small, purple/violet in color and bloom in early to mid-spring.

Fruits & seeds: Purple sausage-shaped fruit pods, which are rarely produced, are 2-4 inches long with deep suture on one edge. Pods have inner white pulp that encases 100-200 small black seeds.

Roots: Rooting also occurs where stem nodes come into contact with the soil.

Similar species: Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia; native) also has leaf arrangement in five, but with coarsely toothed edges.

Distribution

Currently, there are no reports of fiveleaf akebia in Wisconsin. Have you seen it? Send us a report.

Control

Mechanical:
  • For small or scattered infestations, manual and mechanical methods may suffice. Cutting can be done at any time of year. Repeated cutting is needed to stimulate growth and eventually exhaust root reserves. Cutting plants back and layering thick cardboard with several inches of wood chips may control smaller ground-cover populations.
  • For large infestations spanning extensive areas of ground, a combination of manual, mechanical, and chemical control methods may be more practical and effective. A foliar herbicide may be the best choice when considering minimal soil disturbances. For vines climbing up trees or buildings, a combination of cutting followed by application of concentrated systemic herbicide to rooted, living cut surfaces is likely to be the most effective approach.
Chemical:
  • Foliar spray of systemic herbicides 2-5% solution of triclopyr (Garlon® 3A and Garlon® 4) and 2-4% solution of glyphosate should be applied in summer to fall.
  • Herbicides are most effective when plants are fully leafed-out to absorb and translocate chemicals to the roots.
  • Always follow label limits and precautions.

Photos

View fiveleaf akebia pictures in our photo gallery!

Resources

Sources for content:
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.
  • Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health; Invasive.org
  • Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group
Links for more information: