Ba Yue Zha
Botanical name: Akebia trifoliata
Common name: Akebia fruit
Literal name translation: eighth month sticker
Family: Lardizabalaceae, lardizabala family
Part used in Chinese medicine: fruit
Major Chinese medicine actions:
Regulates qi in Liver and Stomach
Photo Credits: (top to bottom)
Photo 1: Akebia trifoliata; Source Point Herbs; Image source unavailable
Akebia is native to northeastern China, Korea, and Japan. A vigorous, twining vine, its natural habitat is the forest margin and when cultivated in a garden setting, it can easily become invasive and overwhelm other plants unless it is pruned regularly.
Growing and Propagation
Akebia trifoliata is deciduous or semi-evergreen, staying green most of the year with leaves that emerge early in spring and stay into December. The vanilla-scented flowers are interesting and unusual, but small and generally remain hidden under the foliage. The development of fruit is dependent on the cross pollination of both male and female flowers. Female flowers are deep chocolate-purple in color, while the male flowers are smaller and lighter colored.
The plant is very adaptable, doing well in sun or shade conditions, moist or dry soil, and low or high pH. It grows 20-40 feet long and can be difficult to get rid of once established unless pruned regularly. Propagation is by seed in containers or in a cold frame as soon as the seed is ripe. Root cuttings can be planted in summer. The plant is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8.
Harvesting and Preparation
For medicinal use, the fruit is harvested, soaked in water, sliced and dried in the sun. Large, whole, unopened fruit is considered the best quality.