Here’s a plant of interest for all chocolate enthusiasts and chocaholics, even reformed ones such as myself. It’s the Chocolate Vine, or Akebia quinata as it is often found more scientifically listed. I love the sound of its latin family name too - Lardizarbilaceae! Once you have mastered saying it, you will find it one of the most impressive seven syllable words in your repertoire.
This plant is a wholly hardy and highly energetic climber which will speedily scramble up and over any stationary object you leave in its path. Its rounded five lobed leaves are produced in profusion giving a wonderful leafy softness to its appearance. So leafy in fact that sometimes you have to search out its elusive flowers amongst all that elegant foliage.
It is those dark, dangling clusters of flowers that are of most interest however. Deep, chocolatey purple in colour, their rich satiny sheen just adding to their mysterious appeal. Sadly the scent is more spicy vanilla than chocolate. Ultimately though, given good luck and a very good summer they may develop very strange looking purple blue sausage shaped fruit.
The good news is that they are edible. Just. The bad news is that like the scent, the taste does not live up to the name of this otherwise most excellent and enthusiastic of climbers.