Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Sexing the Kiwi (With Apologies to New Zealanders)

Several years ago I bought two kiwi plants, a male and a female.  One grew, the other didn't, but I didn't know which one survived.  So the following year I bought another pair, and again, I had one which grew and one which didn't.  My guess was that the survivor was a male, so the following year I bought a female.

Flash forward to last year.  The three surviving plants were growing lustily, climbing up the volunteer grape vine that grows out of our compost heap, and twining happily around the lilac bushes in our neighbors yard.  None of the plants bore fruit though, and I wasn't sure whether I'd inadvertantly ended up with three plants of the same sex, or if the conditions weren't right for fruit.

This year we're going to do some work on the fence, which means that the kiwis would have to be moved anyway.  So, in an attempt to give the plants more sunlight, I dug them up a couple of months ago and transplanted them.  In doing so I found that one still bore a tag saying it was male.  Last week it began to leaf out, and I was delighted that it had survived the move.  The other two were lifeless until yesterday, though and this morning I found leaves on both.  Since the literature says that the male plants flower first, my hope is that the difference in growth reflects difference in sex too.  We shall see: I've downloaded a great pdf file which gives pictures of the differences between male and female flowers.

The picture above is of a kiwi that's been growing the Jardin des plantes.

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