Herb: Silver Vine

Latin name: Actinidia polygama

Synonyms: Actinidia volubilis, Trochostigma polygama

Family: Actinidiaceae (Chinese Gooseberry Family)

Medicinal use of Silver Vine:

The leaves are hallucinogenic and sedative. The leaves contain substances that make them very attractive to cats and for this reason they are especially useful as a sedative for lions etc in zoos. When consumed in large quantities the leaves can have a mild hallucinatory effect. Polygamol, which is made from the fruits, is used as a heart tonic. A dry decoction is used to treat colic and rheumatism.

Description of the plant:


6 m
(20 feet)



Habitat of the herb:

Woodlands and hedges in mountains throughout Japan.

Edible parts of Silver Vine:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Not very palatable, it is eaten salted. Some cultivars have nice flavoured fruits. The fruit contains up to 5 times the vitamin C. of blackcurrants. Fairly large fruits, up to 3cm across. It contains a number of small seeds, but these are easily eaten with the fruit. Leaves - raw or cooked. The leaves can also be roasted and mixed with tea.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. It is probably best if the seed is given 3 months stratification, either sow it in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in November or as soon as it is received. Fresh seed germinates in 2 - 3 months at 10C, stored seed can take longer. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. When the plants are 30cm or more tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Most seedlings are male. The seedlings are subject to damping off, they must be kept well ventilated. Cuttings of softwood as soon as ready in spring in a frame. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very high percentage. Cuttings of ripe wood, October/November in a frame.

Cultivation of Silver Vine:

Woodlands and hedges in mountains throughout Japan.

Known hazards of Actinidia polygama:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.