NATIVE RANGE: East Asia (China, Korea, Japan)
FIRST FINDING IN SLOVENIA: 2010, but present for several decades before it was reported
POSSIBLE TO FIND: year-round
FLOWERING SEASON: March-May
DESCRIPTION: A climbing vine or ground cover. Leaves spiralling on spurs (short branches), palmately compound with five elliptic leaflets, 3–6 cm long. Monoecious, but male and female flowers are separate and borne either in the same or in separate clusters. Female flowers are purplish-pink, 25–30 mm across while the male ones are smaller and paler. Flowers have a vanilla-like fragrance. The fruit is a purplish-pink, pod, 6–8 cm long, containing black seeds. The plants are self-sterile and fruits only develop when flowers receive pollen from a genetically different clone.
HABITAT: In its native range the species grows in riparian habitats and on mountain slopes. The Slovenian locations are in moist forest and scrubland along a railway.
STATUS: Recorded locally in Western and Central Europe. It is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens. Known from a location near Nova Gorica; in 2017 also found in Ljubljana. Commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Three-leaf akebia (Akebia trifoliata), is also sold as an ornamental plant, but has only three leaflets. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) has broadly lanceolate leaflets with serrated leaf margins.