The leaves of this native to Japan, China, and Korea are 1 3 in. long, each with five oblong leaflets that are notched at the tips. New leaves are tinged purple, then mature to bluish green. Early spring blossoms are fragrant, rosy purple to chocolate-purple, hanging in clusters to 5 in. long. Blooms are mostly hidden by leaves and are not terribly showy. 'Alba' and 'Shirobana' have white flowers; those of 'Rosea' are lavender. 'Variegata' has light pink flowers and leaves splashed with creamy white. Edible fruit, only occasionally produced, resembles a thick purplish sausage 24 in. long.
Akebia climbs by twining and will climb as tall as its support. It can easily grow 20 ft. or more in a year, but its stems do not crush lattice or wood or metal supports. Good for quick coverage of arbors, chain-link fences, or large walls (if given attachment for its stems). Can also be used to frame a doorway, though it will require pruning almost weekly to keep it in bounds. In Lower South and Coastal South, the vine is mostly evergreen. It may be deciduous in the Upper and Middle South. Renew or contain plants by pruning to the ground in winter; they rebound quickly. Invasive in moist shade.
A. trifoliata, called threeleaf akebia, is similar to A. quinata, but each leaf has three leaflets. It's also less vigorous and less common. 'Deep Purple' boasts blackish purple, extremely fragrant flowers.