Actinidia polygama (also known as silver vine, cat powder and matatabi) is a species of kiwifruit in the Actinidiaceae family. It grows in the mountainous areas of Japan and China at elevations between 500 and 1900 m.
Silver vine can reach up to 5–6 m high at maturity. It is a deciduous climber and is frost tender. The petiole leaves are silver and white in color and 6–13 cm long and 4–9 cm wide. These colorful markings make the plant identifiable from afar, until the flowering season when the leaves turn completely green.
The flowering season lasts from late June to early July, in which the plant bears white flowers about 2.5 cm in diameter. The longevity of an individual flower is 2–3 d, when the plant also starts to develop small, yellow to yellow-red, egg-shaped, fleshy, and multiseeded fruits, which mature from September to October. The fruit is about 1.5 cm wide and 3.0–4.0 cm long. The inside of the fruit resembles the common kiwifruit, but it is orange in color rather than green.
The silver vine plant requires moist, well-drained soil, and partial shade to full sun. This fast-growing vine makes for good cover on a fence or trellis. It is becoming increasingly popular as an edible fruit crop.
Silver vine has been used for its medicinal benefits for centuries,<ref name="Konoshima">Konoshima, 1963</ref> as a preventative health aid, is still commonly used as an alternative therapy for hypertension, arthritic pain,<ref name="anti-inflammation" /> and was investigated as treatment for cancer.<ref name="cancer" />Template:Full citation needed<ref name="cancer">Template:Cite journalTemplate:Dead link</ref> In traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, it has been used for a wide range of health problems, including:
|Heart tonic|| Rheumatism<ref name="anti-inflammation">Template:Cite journal
</ref> || Circulatory stimulant
|Cystitis||Arthritic pain<ref name="anti-inflammation" />||Hypertension|
|Cholesterol reduction||Liver protection<ref name="hepatoprotective">Sakurai, H. (2005b.). Hepatoprotective effects of tea and extract powders from Silver Vine leaves. 26th World Congress and Exhibition of the ISF. Poster presentation, Prague, Czech Republic</ref>||Kidney disease|
|Cardiac ailments<ref name="antihyperlipemic">Sakurai, H. (2005). Antihyperlipemic and antitumor effects of components of matatabi leaves. 26th World Congress and Exhibition of the ISF. Poster presentation, Prague, Czech Republic</ref>||Stroke|
It is said that:
“Old, weary travelers, (come) back to life to eat the fruit of [silver vine] and then continue their journey”.<ref name="lovenature">www.love-nature.jp 昔、疲れきった旅人が、マタタビの実を食べて生気を取り戻し、意気洋々とまた旅を続けたという名の由来が次に続く。</ref>
The fruit in the “acorn” shape can be salted and eaten raw, fried in oil, added to rice, or mixed with sesame seeds and mayonnaise to top salads.Template:Citation needed The fruit may also be fermented to make Matatabi sake and miso; fermented into a fruit wine; or extracted for juice.Template:Citation needed The leaves, buds, and stems can also be ground into a powder or cut, steamed, and steeped to make tea.Template:Citation needed Adding mint or sugar can give variations in the tea.Template:Citation needed
Grinding the leaves and stems into a coarser grind than needed for the tea makes Matatabi grass, which is used as bath salts. The vine is used as material for folk crafts, and the sap is collected to make lotions.
Silver vine (also called matatabi) has long been known to elicit euphoric response in cats.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> It is the most popular cat treat in Asia, thus sometimes cited in manga as matatabi.<ref>See the Episode 8 of Hayate the Combat Butler (Season 2).</ref> The reaction to silver vine is similar to the catnip response, but appears to be more intense.<ref name="bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com">Template:Cite journal</ref> Silver vine is a great alternative to catnip, and many cats which do not react to catnip will respond positively to silver vine powder made from dried fruit galls.<ref name="bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com"/> Typical behaviors include rolling, chin and cheek rubbing, drooling, and licking. The effect usually lasts between five and 30 minutes, and cats will usually visit silver vine again after about 20–30 minutes.Template:Citation needed