The Surprising Reason (Some) Kiwis Have “Hair”

Why Are Kiwis Hairy?

Hair is everywhere in nature – it’s on top of our heads, all over our bodies, and it covers our pets!

Obviously, it’s there for a reason. It keeps us warm and protects us from parasites, among other valuable functions.

So why does it seem so strange that fruit shouldn’t have it as well?

As you might guess, nothing in nature is accidental. The fine little hairs covering that delicious kiwi have a definite purpose – several of them!

The reason kiwis are hairy (the hairs are technically termed trichomes) is that the fuzz serves to lock moisture within the fruit while simultaneously protecting from pests/pathogens and atmospheric pressures like excessive sunlight, wind and heat – all of which can damage the delicious flesh of the fruit.

The density of trichomes on kiwis can vary widely based on the variety, but most of the types you’re likely familiar with will have some fuzziness on the skin.

Can You Eat the Fuzz on a Kiwi?

The fuzz on kiwi fruit is perfectly edible, though there are lots of people who aren’t fans of the fine little hairs.

Even after having a presence in supermarkets for decades, kiwis are not as popular as the growers would like, and unfortunately for them, a lot of the reason comes down to the familiar fine coating of fuzz.

The hairs are viewed as an inconvenience by most buyers since most assume that (a) the skin must be removed or (b) they don’t like the texture of it and peel it away from the fruit before eating or adding to recipes.

Recognizing this, producers of kiwis have spent considerable time and effort to alter the fuzzy varieties of kiwi fruit and make them “hairless”. While there are smooth-skinned varieties, they are not as popular with consumers or as widely available.

So far, the efforts haven’t been productive with some taste testers describing the modified kiwi as tasting of kerosene… yuck!

For now, if you want that sweet, lightly citrus that the kiwi is known for, the hair is here to stay.

Are All Kiwis Hairy?

No, there are many types of kiwi fruit that do not have hair on them. Sometimes referred to as kiwi berries, they are less common than the fuzzy variety you probably know well.

They have a size approximating a large grape with a similar smooth, green skin but while having the same flavor as their furrier relatives.

These types of kiwis include the Hardy Kiwi (Actinidia arguta), Artic Kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta) and Silver Vine (Actinidia polygama).

Types of Fuzzy (Hairy) Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi fruit with fuzz (Actinidia deliciosa) is the kind you’re most likely to find at your local grocery store. Below, we’ll discuss the most common types of them.

Abbott Kiwi

The Abbott Kiwi has an oblong shape. A medium-sized fruit, the fuzz on the exterior is long and quite soft. It has a light green flesh and is typically harvested in October or November.

Bruno Kiwi

The Bruno Kiwi is larger and possesses a more elongated shape than other types of kiwi. The skin is dark brown and densely fuzz covered with short, bristly hairs.

Fuzzy Kiwi

The Fuzzy Kiwi is an egg-shaped fruit that has its origins in China, specifically in the central and eastern regions of the country. The skin tone is dark brown with hints of reddish orange, sometimes to referred to as russet. The hairs of the Fuzzy Kiwi are aptly short and stiff, giving the appearance of a fuzzy coating.

The interior (flesh) of the fruit is typically bright green but can also be yellow, brown or even white.

Green Kiwi

The Green Kiwi is the type that will be familiar to most people. Produced year-round around the world, it possesses a rounder shape than the Fuzzy Kiwi. Like the Fuzzy Kiwi, it possesses a green flesh and small black seeds.

Hayward Kiwi

Of the Green Kiwi fruits, the Hayward Kiwi is the variety you’re most likely to find in your produce department. The flesh of the Hayward is bright green and is densely covered with short hairs. It’s strawberry-like flavor profile makes it a worldwide favorite and the most popular of the Fuzzy Kiwi varieties.

Jenny Kiwi

A self-pollinating hybrid, the Jenny Kiwi is characterized by its smaller egg shape, green skin and abundance of hairs covering the skin of the fruit. Its flavor is a mix of sweet and tart giving it broad appeal. Crunchy black seeds can be found that the core of this kiwi fruit.

Mao Hua Kiwi

The Mao Hua Kiwi is characterized by its thickness and oval-shape. The hair density covering of this green-fleshed kiwi can range from loose to tight.

Type Shape Size Fuzz Type Harvest Time Flesh Color
Abbott Kiwi Oblong Medium Long, Soft October/November Light Green
Bruno Kiwi Elongated Large Short, Bristly N/A N/A
Fuzzy Kiwi Egg-shaped N/A Short, Stiff N/A Bright Green, Yellow, Brown, White
Green Kiwi Round N/A Short Year-round Bright Green
Hayward Kiwi N/A N/A Short N/A Bright Green
Jenny Kiwi Egg-shaped Small Abundant N/A Green
Mao Hua Kiwi Oval Thick Loose to Tight N/A Green
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