Akebia quinata (chocolate vine or five-leaf akebia) is a shrub that is native to Japan, China and Korea, and naturalized in the eastern United States from Georgia to Michigan to Massachusetts.
It grows to 10 m (30 ft) or more in height and has compound leaves with five leaflets. The flowers are clustered in racemes and are chocolate-scented, with three or four sepals. The fruits are sausage-shaped pods which contain edible pulp. The gelatinous placentation is littered with seeds but have a sweet flavor, so they used to be enjoyed by children playing out in the countryside in the olden days in Japan. The rind, with a slight bitter taste, is used as vegetable, e.g., stuffed with ground meat and deep-fried. The vines are traditionally used for basket-weaving.
In China, A. quinata is referred to as - - mù tōng (Pinyin) or mu tung (Wade-Giles) - meaning "woody thoroughgoing (plant)". It is also occasionally known as - - tōng co (Pinyin) or tung tsao (Wade-Giles) - meaning "throroughgoing grass". In the Chinese pharmacopoeia it is believed to be therapeutic as a diuretic, antiphlogistic, galactagogue and analgesic. The principal use of the herb in China is as a traditional remedy for insufficient lactation in nursing mothers. The medicinal part of the plant is the woody stem which is sliced in transverse sections and prepared as a decoction. The stem contains approximately 30% potassium salts thus giving the diuretic action.
A. quinata is listed in the National Pest Plant Accord list which identifies pest plants that are prohibited from sale, commercial propagation and distribution across New Zealand.