Kadsura coccinea – the crimson kadsura
Kadsura are dioecious, evergreen climbing shrubs that bear fruits which are similar to sugar apples (Annona squamosa).
In Vietnam, kadsura is known as nắm cơm (rice ball), na leo (climbing sugar apple), na rừng (forest sugar apple), or as Sino-Vietnamese medicinal name Ngũ vị tử. There are various Kadsura specieis found in Vietnam, such as Kadsura heteroclita, Kadsura roxburghiana, Kadsura longipedunculata or Kadsura coccinea.
Kadsura coccinea is probably the most distinctive because it has red-blooded flesh when ripe. The scarlet kadsura occurs in mountainous northern Vietnam in such provinces like Lạng Sơn, Yên Bái, Lào Cai, or Điện Biên. Its fruits are gathered by the ethnic people in the region who call the fruits as “chí chuôn chua” or “tứn khửn”.
A crimson kadsura has a green skin, and red flesh like blood. It’s quite large compared to a sugar apple. An average fruit weighs from 0.6-1 kg, while large ones can weigh up to 3-4 kg/fruit.
Although the fruits are edible, and taste mildly sweet, there is not much pulp or flesh.
They are used many for medicinal benefits based on the traditional medicine practice. The common way to consume to fruits is to make tonic liquor by submerging the fruit pulps in rice liquor with or without other medicinal herbs. Alternately, the fruits are brewed to make kadsura wine, just like grapes.