Fuzzy Fruit
Faces - The Magazine of People, Places and Cultures for Kids|November/December 2020
If you travel to Te Puke (teh POOK-ee), a town on the northern coast of New Zealand, you will see strange orchards. Instead of rows of trees, these orchards have rows of short wooden frames called pergolas, on which twining vines grow. The fuzzy, brown fruit that grows on these vines is the reason Te Puke calls itself the Kiwifruit Capital of the World.
By Michelle Ulrich

In 2018, New Zealand sold 149 million trays of kiwifruit. Although this fruit is now their largest horticultural export, kiwifruit vines did not always grow in New Zealand soil.

In 1904, Mary Isabel Fraser returned home from China where she was visiting her sister, a missionary. She brought some unfamiliar seeds back with her. A local nurseryman, Alexander Allison, planted them. He tended the plants for four years, before they finally fruited in 1910.

People thought they tasted like gooseberries. Because the seeds originated from China, they were dubbed the Chinese gooseberry.

Other nurserymen started growing them. By the 1920s, Chinese gooseberry plants were available at several nurseries. Although they remained a novelty for the next two decades, they caught the eye of horticulturists.

One horticulturist, Hayward Wright, chose plants from the original seeds. They produced large fruit with excellent flavor, so he propagated them by growing more plants from those he’d first chosen. In 1956, they were named after him. The Hayward variety is still the favorite for kiwifruit export.

FAST FACTS

»Kiwifruit vines can grow up to 33 feet long. That’s about the height of a three-story house.

»Kiwifruit can be eaten raw or cooked. Even the fuzzy skin is edible.

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If you travel to Te Puke (teh POOK-ee), a town on the northern coast of New Zealand, you will see strange orchards. Instead of rows of trees, these orchards have rows of short wooden frames called pergolas, on which twining vines grow. The fuzzy, brown fruit that grows on these vines is the reason Te Puke calls itself the Kiwifruit Capital of the World.

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