Chocolate vine (Akebia quinata), also known as five-leaf akebia, is a woody vine that grows quickly. If left unmanaged, it can cover, out-compete, and displace native ground-level herbs, seedlings, understory shrubs, and young trees. Native to Asia (specifically China, Japan, and Korea), the chocolate vine thrives in the mid-Atlantic climate. Chocolate vine was introduced to the U.S during the mid-1800's as an ornamental species, and since then it has escaped cultivation in multiple states, including North Carolina.
Chocolate vine is a perennial, semi-evergreen, twining woody vine, that forms trailing branches and twines up shrubs and trees. The leaves are tardily deciduous, alternate, and palmately compound (connected at one point) with 5 leaflets. The stems are slender, reddish brown, with small, reddish-brown buds. Flowers are fragrant, have three petals, and are chocolate-purple to maroon in color. In North Carolina, it has been observed in the Mountains and the Piedmont.
Fact Sheet: Chocolate Vine
Top Left: Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org
Top Right: Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University, Bugwood.org
Bottom Left: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org