The term “Kiwi” has many different meanings, almost all of which have to do with New Zealand. Usually one means the kiwi fruit. But there are also the kiwi birds, which are also known as “snipe ostriches”. It is the national symbol of New Zealand.
The New Zealanders are so proud of their national bird that the people themselves are often referred to as “Kiwis”. Even the currency that is actually called the New Zealand dollar is often called the “kiwi”.
How do kiwi fruits grow?
Kiwis are creepers. So they climb up along another plant. In nature, kiwis grow up to 18 meters high. In the plantations, they get help from wooden sticks or wire for climbing. There, however, they are kept lower so that they can be picked more easily. The pulp of all types and varieties is edible and sweet, it contains a lot of vitamin C and is therefore considered very healthy.
The different species and the bred varieties differ considerably in some cases. With the large kiwis that we know from the supermarket, each plant is either male or female. It always takes both to produce fruit. They are harvested in November at the latest in the northern hemisphere. Then they still have to ripen, which means they have to be stored until they are soft enough to be eaten.
In other breeds, the berries are smaller, about two to three centimeters long, like gooseberries. These plants bear flowers of both sexes, so even a single plant gives fruit. You can harvest them in autumn and put them in your mouth right away because they have smooth skin. They are therefore also suitable for a larger pot on the balcony. They are usually called “mini kiwis”.
The kiwis originally came from China. They were only brought to New Zealand about a hundred years ago. Most kiwis today come from China, followed by Italy, New Zealand, Iran, and Chile.
There are several different types of kiwis. The species with the name “Chinese gooseberry” sells the most. All species together form the genus of the ray pen, which belongs to the class of flowering plants, like most of our fruits.
How do kiwi birds live?
Kiwi birds cannot fly. They are therefore counted among the ratites. They live exclusively in New Zealand and on a few nearby islands. They are the smallest ratites. The body, neck, and head measure about a foot to two feet, not counting the beak. They don’t have a tail. The wings measure just under five centimeters.
Kiwi birds live in the forest. They only leave their shelter after sunset. They orientate themselves by smell and hearing. This is extremely rare for birds. They live on their own territory, and a pair stays true to each other for life. Together they build several caves for sleeping and for the young animals.
Kiwi birds will eat almost anything they can find. They prefer to look for earthworms, centipedes, and insect larvae in the soil. They have a long beak for this. The kiwi birds also do not disdain fruit lying on the ground.
For reproduction, the male chooses a burrow that is already overgrown at the entrance for better camouflage. It pads the nest with moss and grass. A female usually lays two eggs, but they are huge: six eggs would be as heavy as their mother’s.
The breeding season lasts two to three months, which is very long. Depending on the species, only the male incubates or both alternately. When the young hatch, they almost look like their parents. They also leave the nest after a week. But many are eaten by cats, dogs, or weasels. These animals were introduced by people in New Zealand.
At the age of two, kiwi birds can already have young of their own. If everything works out, they will be over twenty years old.