Passiflora caerulea

Passiflora caerulea

The genus Passiflora, known as Passionflower or Passion fruit, is part of the family Passifloraceae and includes more than 500 species.

They are climbing plants that attach themselves by means of tendrils to any support: tree, climbing frame, gate…

The flowers are simply spectacular and were used by missionaries in South America to teach the Passion of Christ to the natives:

  • the pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance.
  • the tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ.
  • the ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (less St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer).
  • the flower’s radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns.
  • the chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail
  • the 3 stigmas represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).
  • the blue and white colors of many species’ flowers represent Heaven and Purity.

Besides the beauty of the flowers, the leaves are very elegant and a beautiful bright green. The leaves are usually two or three-lobed.

The stems may be 4 to 5 meters long.

Some species, like Passiflora edulis, produce edible fruit with delicate and lightly acidic pulp, usually used to make fruit juice or sherbet.

Distribution:

Passiflora’s are from the tropical regions of the American continent, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. No species is originally from Europe but some species, like Passiflora caerulea, have adapted and grow now in the wild in Spain.

Passiflora incarnata

Passiflora incarnata

Ecology:

Fertilization is very varied, depending on the species by bees, hummingbirds, bats and wasps. Some species are self-pollinating.

The Passion Flowers are an important source of nectar for many insects. They serve as an important food source for many larvae of butterflies and moths.

Certain species of butterflies to prevent too much to lay eggs, some species of Passiflora with buttons the size and color of the eggs of these moths which leads them to believe they have laid more eggs than in reality.

Other species secrete a nutritious liquid attracts ants get rid of the plant pests.

Passiflora foetida has bracts covered with a sticky liquid that captures ones digests insects.

Passion Fruit:

The Passionflower produces edible fruits, called Passion fruit, that are round or oblong, 5 cm to 20 cm long and 2.5 cm to 5 cm wide.

Passion fruit or Grenadilla (Passiflora edulis) is the best known species in Europe. The fruit is round and measures about 5 cm in diameter. The skin is purple and the flesh orange. It is cultivated in the Caribbean, South Florida and South Africa. It is normally used for the preparation of fruit juices.

Sweet grenadine (Passiflora ligularis) is another species that is widespread and also quite large. The fruit is about 20 cm long and 15 cm wide. It is consumed fresh or as juice.

Maypop (Passiflora incarnata): this type is stronger and endures to -4 °C. The aboveground part dies with frost but the foot shoots again next spring in May, hence the name Maypop. The fruit is yellow, soft and has the size of an egg.

Giant granadilla (Passiflora quadrangularis): probably the biggest of the passion fruit. They are approximately 30 cm long and weigh several kilograms. The fruit is yellow when ripe and square. Eaten as vegetables when ripe or as vegetables when still green .

Banana Passion fruit (Passiflora tripartita var. mollissima and Passiflora tarminiana): very elongated fruit and orange pulp.

Passiflora quadrangularis

Passiflora quadrangularis

Medicinal use:

Passiflora is used for a variety of illnesses:

  • insomnia
  • epilepsy
  • hysteria
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • inflammation…

Care:

Soil:

Passiflora will adjust to any kind of soil, except desert conditions or very alkaline soil

Exposure:

Prefers full sun, like a place or a window full south, but will do with a light place or even half-shade.

Water:

Passiflora need abundant watering during the growing season. In winter watering can significantly be reduced but a good soil moisture must be maintained.

Nutrients:

During the growing season, it is best to use liquid fertilizer that must be diluted in water and feed your plants at least twice a month, preferably once a week. In winter, the fertilizer significantly reduced: 1 time per month is sufficient.

Passiflora subpeltata

Passiflora subpeltata

Pruning:

Less vigorously shoots may be pruned, as well as the shoots that become too large for the available space.

Sometimes it is good to prune the plant entirely down so it will grow again with renewed vigour.

Encourage flowering:

If we grow Passiflora in a large pot the roots and the plant will grow and develop at the expense of flowering.

By growing him in a smaller pot it is somewhat cramped and it will feel threatened and produce more flowers to ensure propagation.

Climbing support:

Passiflora needs support for climbing: a gate, a gate, fence, bamboo sticks… They climb by winding tendrils around the support.

Propagation:

Seed, cuttings or layering.

The seeds keep their germination power about 1 year. The fresher the seed, the faster it will germinate.

Sowing instructions:

  • soak the seeds 1 or 2 days in tepid water: in a Thermos or a pot over a heater or other warm place, in a heated mini-greenhouse or aquarium with heating
  • sow in a light mix and cover with a layer of soil about as thick as the seed
  • moisten
  • bag the pot to limit evaporation
  • maintain 20-25 °C
  • seedlings may be repotted when they have 2 or 3 leaves, in any kind of soil, eventually mixed with peat

Cuttings:

  • cuttings are taken from woody stems, that is, half hard wood that is darker, unlike the new shoots that are soft and bright green
    place them in a pot with soil
  • moisten
  • put in a plastic bag
  • after a few weeks, roots will be formed

Species:

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