The variegated leaves of the Manchurian gooseberry are striking even from a distance. In early summer they look as if their tips have been painted white. After flowering, this white colour fades slowly, or turns reddish. Generally, the species is dioecious, i.e. individual plants are either male or female, but wild plants from cold areas include some monoecious individuals (i.e. the same plant bears both male and female flowers). The variety ‘Annikki’, sometimes available from nurseries, is of this monoecious type. The more generally planted vine with its handsome white-splashed foliage is a male variety.
The foliage of the female plants is usually totally green but their fruit make them interesting. The berries are oblong, from 2-4 cms long and 1-1.5 cms diameter. They taste like kiwi-fruit, and the species belongs to the same genus as the true kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa); the best vines produce fruit with fine aromas when fully ripe. The berries ripen individually and have to be used immediately after picking as they don’t keep; berries picked before ripe taste unpleasant.
The Manchurian gooseberry also has attractive white flowers but they are mostly hidden by the luxuriant foliage, though their sweetish sharp scent spreads throughout the garden. The flowers are best seen from below when the vine grows over a pergola or similar framework.