Actinidia deliciosa is a vigorous, woody, twining vine or climbing shrub reaching 9 m (30'). Its leaves are alternate, long-petioled, deciduous, oval to nearly circular, cordate at the base, and 7.5-12.5 cm long.
Young leaves are coated with red hairs; mature leaves are dark-green and hairless on the upper surface, and downy-white with prominent, light-colored veins beneath. The flowers are fragrant, dioecious or bisexual, borne singly or in threes in the leaf axils, are five- to six-petalled, white at first, changing to buff-yellow, 2.5–5 cm broad, and both sexes have central tufts of many stamens, though those of the female flowers with no viable pollen. The flowers also lack nectar.
Male and female flowers appear on different plants (dioecious), and both sexes have to be planted in close proximity for fruit set. Bees are normally used by commercial orchards, although the more labour-intensive hand pollination is sometimes employed. Male flowers are gathered and processed to extract their pollen. This is then sprayed back on to the female flowers.
The oblong fruits are up to 6.25 cm long. The russet-brown skin of the fruits is densely covered with short, stiff, brown hairs.
The flesh is firm until fully ripened; it is glistening, juicy and luscious. The color of the flesh is bright-green, or sometimes yellow, brownish or off-white, except for the white, succulent center from which radiate many fine, pale lines.
The flavor is subacid to quite acid; the flavor is suggested to be similar to that of the gooseberry or strawberry.