A Passion for Passiflora

There are few plants I love more than the common maypop, Passiflora incarnata. There are also few plants that I have failed with as consistently since moving to the Southwest. I think it might be our alkaline soil and water that they dislike. This spring, in what has become a yearly ritual, I ordered a plant. I tried amending the soil in that area with acidic cottonseed meal and gypsum. Then I walked away and, beyond regular watering, did nothing more, which made it all the more marvelous when I spotted the first flower.
The passionflower produces a tropical-tasting fruit in cold winter areas. Quite possibly the single best seafood dish I ever made in my life involved seared scallops on a plate coated with a slightly sweet sauce of coconut milk flavored with shallots, a little lemongrass and ginger, and passion fruit juice. The flowers are lovely. A tea made from the leaves is an excellent home remedy for insomnia, and I have read that the shoot tips can be cooked as a vegetable, although I’ve never tried it and don’t vouch for that use.
Mostly, the Maypop gladdens my heart just by existing. But if I ever get any fruit, I do plan to recreate that sauce.

4 responses to this post.

  1. You’re not alone. Maypop purchase has become a yearly ritual for me too –for the last 5 years fruit and seed combined! Although I don’t think this year will be the last, as it may be for you. Something already bit mine off and the seed did nothing. I hope your plant has many more blooms (and fruits) to come!


  2. Posted by wooddogs3 on July 8, 2015 at 7:31 am

    I hate to sound pessimistic but I rather doubt that my Maypop efforts are really over. Right now we are in our monsoon season and my Passiflora seems to have leaped up a foot in the last week, but I still have to get it through a long dry fall and dessicating winter. But gardeners are like that. Show them one spectacular flower and they’ll do anything to try to please you.


    • Put a bucket over it maybe? I have seen amazing results from a bamboo tripod wrapped with cloth put over plants. That is for my climate though. And our winters are exceedingly wet and dark. Perhaps if you watered it through the winter combined with this method you might get it established. Hopefully it wouldn’t need that kind of treatment every winter thereafter.


  3. Posted by wooddogs3 on July 26, 2015 at 8:21 am

    That sounds like it might help. In my desert climate many plants that are otherwise hardy just dry out and mummify in the winter, and the cloth might help keep sun and wind off the stem.


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