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The word kiwifruit and the shortened kiwi have been used since around 1966, when the fruit was first exported from New Zealand to the United States. Kiwifruit has since become a common name for all commercially grown green kiwifruit from the genus Actinidia. In New Zealand, the word "kiwi" refers to the kiwi bird or is used as a nickname for New Zealanders; it is almost never used to refer to the fruit.
Kiwifruit is native to north-central and eastern China. The first recorded description of the kiwifruit dates to 12th century China during the Song dynasty. As it was usually collected from the wild and consumed for medicinal purposes, the plant was rarely cultivated or bred. Cultivation of kiwifruit spread from China in the early 20th century to New Zealand, where the first commercial plantings occurred. The fruit became popular with British and American servicemen stationed in New Zealand during World War II, and was later exported, first to Great Britain and then to California in the 1960s.
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