Kiwi is a rapidly growing vining plant that produces delicious, bright green fruit with a non-edible fuzzy brown exterior. In order for the plant to set fruit, both male and female kiwi vines are necessary; in fact, at least one male plant for every eight female kiwi plants is required. With a flavor somewhere between pineapple and berries, it is a desirable and attractive fruit to grow, but one question plagues the grower. How do I tell the difference between male and female kiwis? Determining the sex of kiwi is the key to understanding why the plant is or is not fruiting.
Kiwi Plant Identification
To determine kiwi plant gender, one must only wait for the plant to bloom. Ascertaining the sex of male and female kiwi vines lies in the differences between the flowers. Understanding the difference between male and female kiwi vines will determine whether the plant will set fruit.
Female kiwi plant identification will appear as flowers with long sticky stigmas radiating out from the center of the bloom. Additionally, the female flowers do not produce pollen. When determining the sex of kiwi blooms, the female will also have bright white, well defined ovaries at the base of the flower, which, of course, the males lack. The ovaries, by the way, are the parts that develop into fruit.
Male kiwi flowers have a brilliantly colored yellow center due to its pollen bearing anthers. Males are really only useful for one thing and that is making lots and lots of pollen, hence, they are heavy producers of pollen that is attractive to pollinators which carry it off to nearby female kiwi vines. Since the male kiwi vines do not bear fruit, they put all of their energy into vine growth and are, thus, often more vigorous and larger than their female counterparts.
If you have yet to purchase a kiwi vine or are just looking to ensure that you obtain a male for reproductive purposes, many male and female plants are tagged in the nursery. Examples of male kiwi vines are ‘Mateua,’ ‘Tomori,’ and ‘Chico Male.’ Look for female varieties under the names of ‘Abbot,’ ‘Bruno,’ ‘Hayward,’ ‘Monty,’ and ‘Vincent.’