The kiwifruit or Chinese gooseberry (often shortened to kiwi) is the edible berry of a woody vine in the genus Actinidia. The most common cultivar group of kiwifruit (‘Hayward’) is oval, about the size of a large hen’s egg (5–8 cm (2.0–3.1 in) in length and 4.5–5.5 cm (1.8–2.2 in) in diameter). It has a fibrous, dull greenish-brown skin and bright green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. The fruit has a soft texture and a sweet but unique flavor. It is a commercial crop in several countries, such as Italy, New Zealand, Chile, Greece, and France.
The word kiwi fruit and shortened kiwi have been used since around 1966 when the fruit was first imported from New Zealand to the United States.
The alternate name, Chinese gooseberry, arose among growers and consumers in Europe when Chinese imports began in the early 1900s. It replaced the Chinese name, yang tau, meaning “strawberry, peach”, which was used in Europe apparently due to the similarity of taste and color of the flesh with the Ribes gooseberry already popular throughout Europe. In 1962, New Zealand growers began calling it “kiwi fruit” to give it more market appeal, a name becoming commercially adopted in 1974.
Kiwifruit has since become a common name for all commercially grown fruit from the genus Actinidia. In New Zealand, however, the shortened word kiwi is seldom used to refer to the fruit, as it usually refers to the kiwi bird or the people of New Zealand.