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Akebia quinata – Five-Leaf Akebia, Chocolate Vine

Categories:Ecology Environmental & Garden Problems Invasive Plants Perennials Vines

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Akebia quinata, commonly known as five-leaf akebia or chocolate vine, is considered invasive by many environmental groups.

There are many other aggressive vines one can plant (hops anyone?) that are not dangerous to native plant populations. Five-leaf akebia is not recommended as a suitable garden or landscape specimen.

chocolate vine

Locally vs. Widespread Invasive Plants

I tend to think of invasive plants as either local or widespread threats. For example, many bamboos spread aggressively via rhizomes to invade any suitable ground within the immediate area. This behavior is aggravating to many gardeners, but bamboo is not generally considered an environmental danger.

When evaluating if a plant is potentially disruptive to ecosystems consider whether it spreads via seed dispersal. The most dangerous plants to the environment are highly adaptable aggressive non-natives whose seeds are dispersed by birds or wind.

In many cases, there is little danger in planting locally invasive species (Bermuda and Zoysia grasses are incredibly invasive locally. Turf grasses’ growth habit is precisely why they are chosen for millions of lawns nationwide). One could argue against turf grasses for home application, but that is another discussion. One generally does not have to worry bermuda grass is going to escape the confines of the home landscape into the wild.

Five-leaf akebia can spread via seed dispersal

A deciduous vine growing 20′-30′, Akebia quinata has become naturalized in parts of the eastern United States. Akebia grows in a dense matt. In addition, five-leaf akebia is sun and shade tolerant. This rampant and complete growth habit can easily overwhelm many of our native plant populations.

Imagine five-leaf akebia set loose on a forest floor full of trilliums.


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