(Akebia sp. — Family Lardizabalaceae)
Akebia is the name of the fruits from either of two climbing shrubs found in China, Korea, and Japan. Although appreciated in their native regions, the fruits are rarely cultivated.
Each tree produces clusters of one, two, or three greyish, purplish fruits that resemble small bananas in shape.
Those of the A. trifoliata can reach lengths of five inches and burst open when ripe to reveal semi-transparent flesh containing numerous black seeds.
The flesh, which has a faint flavour, and the skin are edible. In Japan, the seeds are removed from the fruit and stuffed with miso and other ingredients. The whole thing is tied up and lightly fried.
As what often happens, it is the filling, not what encases it, that is tasty. The dried leaves of the plant are used in teas.