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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Kiwis Can't Fly; Neither Can Kiwis (for the Week of Feb. 15, 2009)

February 15, 2009

Q. Dear Twig: Where do kiwis come from? The fruit, not the bird.


A. The grocery store, right? Right? Kidding. First they have to grow somewhere. And where they grow is on woody vines that farmers grow in orchards. The farmers grow them on sturdy poles or trellises. Reason: Kiwi vines grow like crazy.

Most of the kiwis sold in stores come from Italy, Chile, New Zealand, California and a half dozen or so other places.

People call kiwi fruit "kiwifruit," too. Reason: to not mix it up with the kiwi bird. The kiwi bird lives in New Zealand. Neither kiwi can fly. They have that in common. They're both also brownish and fuzzy. But inside they're different. The kiwi bird isn't bright green. Nor sweet nor juicy nor good for breakfast nor rich in vitamin C.

Next: If you give a Twig a kiwi — the fruit, not the bird — he'll tell you how to grow your own kiwis — the fruit, not the bird.

Kiwi me,


P.S. "Kiwi" can also mean a person from New Zealand. Note: Also not bright green inside.



Kiwifruit's other names include Chinese gooseberry (though it's not a real gooseberry), melonette and yang tao (in China) plus the fun to say but rarely used goat peach, sheep peach, monkey peach and hairy pear.

Sources included two fact sheets, both called "Kiwifruit," one from where I call my home, Ohio State University, and one from our neighbor to the west, Purdue University: and

Cool: The kiwi bird is the national symbol of New Zealand.

Not cool: All five kiwi bird species are endangered. Why? Imported predators, habitat loss, even cars.

Cool site:


About This:

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick" is a weekly feature for children (ages 9+; 4th grade reading level) about science, nature, farming and the environment. Online at

Brought to you by your scientific friends at The Ohio State University — specifically, at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) ( and with Ohio State University Extension ( OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Written by Kurt Knebusch of OARDC and OSU Extension. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt at CommTech, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691;; (330) 263-3776.


Kurt Knebusch