Kiwifruit

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The kiwifruit, often shortened to kiwi in many parts of the world, is the edible berry of a cultivar group of the woody vine Actinidia deliciosa and hybrids between this and other species in the genus Actinidia.

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, New Zealand and Chile.

Contents

Names

Also known as the Chinese gooseberry,[1] the fruit was renamed for export marketing reasons in the 1950s; briefly to melonette, and then later by New Zealand exporters to kiwifruit. This name "kiwifruit" comes from the kiwi — a brown flightless bird and New Zealand's national symbol, and also a colloquial name for the New Zealand people.

The importer in the US, Ziel & Co in San Francisco suggested the old name of Chinese gooseberry was unsuitable, recommending instead a short, Maori name. Jack Turner initiated the name "kiwifruit" around 1962[2] as part of Turners & Growers marketing response to this feedback, and the name became a global brand. The trademark was not registered internationally, however. To distinguish 'Kiwi kiwifruit', the trademark Zespri was registered in 1997.

This fruit had a long history before it was commercialized as kiwifruit, and therefore had many other older names.

In Chinese:[3]

  • Macaque peach (獼猴桃 Pinyin: míhóu táo): the most common name
  • Macaque pear (獼猴梨 míhóu lí)
  • Vine pear (藤梨 téng lí)
  • Sunny peach (陽桃 yáng táo), a name originally referring to the kiwifruit, but often refers to the starfruit
  • Wood berry (木子 mù zi)
  • Hairy bush fruit (毛木果 máo mù guǒ)
  • Unusual fruit or wonder fruit (奇異果 Pinyin: qíyì guǒ, Jyutping: kei4 ji6 gwo2): the most common name in Taiwan and Hong Kong, a quasi-transliteration of "kiwifruit", literally "strange fruit"

History

Actinidia deliciosa is native to southern China. Originally known as yang tao,[4] it is declared as the "National Fruit" of the People's Republic of China.[5] Other species of Actinidia are also found in India and Japan and north into southeastern Siberia. Cultivation spread from China in the early 20th century, when seeds were introduced to New Zealand by Mary Isabel Fraser, the principal of Wanganui Girls' College, who had been visiting mission schools in Yichang, China.[6] The seeds were planted in 1906 by a Wanganui nurseryman, Alexander Allison, with the vines first fruiting in 1910.

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