Actinidia is a genus of woody plants native to temperate eastern Asia, occurring throughout most of China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan, and extending north to southeast Siberia and south into Indochina. The genus includes shrubs growing to 6 m tall, and vigorous, strong-growing vines, growing up to 30 m in tree canopies.
The leaves are alternate, simple, with a dentate margin and a long petiole. The flowers are solitary or in axillary cymes, usually white, with five small petals. Most of the species are dioecious with separate male and female plants, but some are monoecious. The fruit is a large berry containing numerous small seeds; in most species the fruit is edible.
There are about 40–60 species of Actinidia:
Actinidia arguta has small fruit 10–15 g, with green edible skins and green flesh; hardier than A. deliciosa.
In Japan, Actinidia polygama (silver vine) is commonly known as "matatabi" (またたび) and noted for having an effect on cats much like that of catnip. It is mentioned in the saying 猫にまたたび、女郎に小判 (neko ni matatabi, jorō ni koban, "Silver vine to a cat, a coin to a prostitute"), meaning to put someone in a good mood by providing that which they most desire.
Actinidia kolomikta is the hardiest species (to about -40°C), and has distinctive white- and pink-variegated foliage even on wild plants, an unusual phenomenon. Its fruit is very small, 8 g or smaller.