Akebia quinata is listed under the National Pest Plant Accord as an "unwanted organism" in New Zealand since it is considered to be an invasive plant. It is also considered invasive in several states in the eastern United States, according to the Plant Conservation Alliance.
Akebia is often mentioned in Japanese literature, where it is evocative of pastoral settings. Although the akebi commonly refers to the five-leafed species, the three-leafed species is used in much the same way for novelty food, medicine, and for vine material.
It is something of minor food source that was foraged in the past when other more conventional food sources were scarce. The pods contain a white, semi-translucent gelatinous pulp that is mildly sweet and full of seeds. The taste is described as sweet but rather "insipid". Some people recollect in idyllic terms how they foraged for it in the hills as children.
The purple-colored, slightly bitter rind has been used as vegetable in Yamagata Prefecture or in those northern areas, where the typical recipe calls for stuffing the rind with minced chicken (or pork) flavored with miso. Minor quantities of akebia are shipped to the urban market as novelty vegetable.
In Japan, the leaves are made into a tea infusion. Also, Akebia vines are used for basket-weaving crafts. An old source lists Minakuchi, Shiga and Tsugaru (now Aomori Prefecture) as localities that produced baskets from the vines of trifoliate variety.