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Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata) in Zone 7

 
John Seay
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Location: Richmond, Va
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I'll keep this short; but on one of my walkabouts this summer in Richmond Virginia I found a flower that was really amazing and that I'd never seen before. Well today I was reading one of my medicinal plant books and saw it right there in front of me. It was listed as Passion Flower which I then did a quick google search to find that it is passion fruit. It was always my understanding that passion fruit was a warm weather fruit. The hill I found it on is south facing and protected from wind and surrounded by concrete so maybe there is a sufficient micro-climate to keep it protected from frosts. I'll be checking it out this week for sure though to see if there is any fruit to be had.
 
Nicole Castle
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What you usually see referred to as food and tastes like Hawaiian Punch is a tropical plant, Passiflora edulis. Then there's what we have, which is Passiflora incarnata, aka maypop. It has edible fruit if you are lucky enough to actually beat the animals to them, but they aren't quite as tasty as the tropical version. Collect fruit when they are turning orange. (There are others in the family, too.)

It's probably too late in the season to collect any fruit. Normally it will fruit about July here and I suspect what you are seeing now will die back before the fruit has a chance to set and mature. It can't hurt to check, but you may want to make a note of the spot and return next year. These vines are very good about reseeding themselves.

Amazing flowers, aren't they?
 
Judith Browning
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We encourage our wild passion flower vine for the medicinal properties of the leaves, stems and flowers...a wonderful sedative....we gather and dry whole vines when blooming for tea. My understanding is that domestic/ornamental varieties are toxic though...so be sure of your plant. Occasionally we gather fruit but the tiny bit of pulp compared to seed isn't hardly worth it...tastey though.

edit...ours is passiflora incarnata L. with fruit that is ripe when pale greenish yellow and starting to wrinkle.
 
Cris Bessette
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As an earlier poster said, what you have is the "maypop" version of the passion flower plant. Most of the passion flower species is a tropical plant, but a few are hardy including the maypop.

I have some growing at my house here in zone 7B, the fruit taste just like Hawaiian punch to me.
The flowers are really neat too.
 
Irene Kightley
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Yes the flowers are lovely - these two varieties aren't hardy outside in Zone 7 but you can bring them in to the heat for a few weeks in winter. The bees love them !






 
Tyler Ludens
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We have a native variety, possibly P. tenuiloba. The flowers and fruits are tiny:

 
Kelson Water
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another name is Crone flower
 
Calvin Mars
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I grow the maypop varieties in zone 7. I love em. Be careful with ordering them though, there are a lot of cultivars that were bred for flowers and not fruit. Although these cultivars are pretty, smell great, and have useful herbal properties (We like to candy the flowers...), it seems like such a waste to not have the fruit as well. They do have a tendency to ramble a lot, they will spread far from the mother plant and "may pop" up in areas you weren't intending.

I created a shady zone with giant sticks and this vine to grow mushrooms in. I'm starting to run some of them up my mulberry trees to see what happens.

The sterile varieties that don't have juicy yumminess inside the fruit make great clown noses!
 
Micheal Williams
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John Seay.... I live in Richmond where in Richmond did you find the passion fruit/ flower?
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I found a maypop last year, growing atop the wild grape covered fence that divides my barnyard and the neighbors cow pasture. I didn't pick any last year because it didn't have many blooms or fruit.

This year, there were many beautiful blooms and it has lots of fruit. They are all still very green and very smooth skinned. I've broken open two (chosen because of minor imperfections), but they have only dry pulp and small white seeds. The weather here this spring/summer has been long stretches of record highs without rain, alternating with several flooding rains. We were always one end of the spectrum or the other. It's nearly mid October now, with temps 65/40F (about 5° below avg). Will they have time to fully ripen here in zone 7?
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Maypop
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Calvin Mars wrote:I   I'm starting to run some of them up my mulberry trees to see what happens.


I just spent two days getting some of our Passion fruit vines out of our mulberry trees, they were becoming strangled and that is not good for our mulberries.

We have Passion fruit growing all around our fence line and as the fruits start to ripen we give most of them to the hogs (who love them) and I eat a few when fully ripe.
The fruits have plenty of seeds inside and when we want to grow some more, we just toss a few ripe fruits into the area we want more Passion fruits to grow in.

If I let them grow into any trees it is usually the hickory trees that I want to remove in the future.
So far no hickory tree I've let them grow into has survived more than two years of Passion fruit occupation. At that point I get out the saw and remove the dead tree.

Redhawk
 
Dylan Mulder
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One of my big projects this year was to start and grow Maypops (P. incarnata) from seed. I locally sourced some seed from the kindly fellow who introduced them to me back in 2015. I was able to germinate the dry seeds using mechanical scarification.

Some online sources claim that Maypops will flower and fruit in their very first year, and I was surprised to find that it was true. About half of the plants I started from seed fruited this year. They're also already shooting up runners, which makes division laughably easy.

How many perennial fruits will bear in their first year and are this easy to propagate? This plant is a rare gift.

I trellised all but one plant, and supported the last plant by simply shoving some sticks in the ground. Ironically, it was the best plant of the bunch.

@Karen. If you really need to, you might be able to pick them early and ripen them off the plant. The fruits that naturally fall off the vine aren't entirely ripe either, and their flavor is improved greatly by waiting for the smooth green skin to become wrinkled and yellowish green.
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Karen Donnachaidh
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Bryant, good advice. Don't plant maypops near trees you care to keep.
Dylan, thanks I will try that. I checked them again today and they're still green. I'll just pick a few to see if they'll ripen inside. I may put them in with my apples to help ripen them. I am excited to (hopefully) try them for the first time.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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In an attempt to ripen some off the vine, I see one of the maypops I put in my apple basket is starting to get a little wrinkled (ripening).

I found one today that was detached from the vine, hanging in the grapes vines/briars. And because it has about six inches of vine attached, I don't believe it fell off. It was rather wrinkled and a yellowish green color. Thought I'd try it. It does taste a little lemony ( love raw lemons). I don't think I want a whole mouthful of those seeds, they're a bit harder than I imagined. The seeds are about a quarter inch in size, each enclosed in it's own juice filled sac. Reminds me of fish eggs.

I wonder if the one I tried is fully ripe yet. Do they get even juicier and sweeter or is this as good as it gets? There does seem to be some tiny, flat, seedless, juice less nodes amongst the full ones. Maybe that indicates it's still immature. If this is as good as it gets, I'll have to say that they're just okay, won't be a foraging favorite, but fun and interesting to eat.

Lots more on the vine that are still green and smooth. I find that surprising since it's the end of Oct. but I don't really know when they are ripe here. Evidently, the cows like them too because the whole vine has disappeared from the other side of the fence.
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Maypop
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Maypop seed
 
Dan Boone
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:Bryant, good advice. Don't plant maypops near trees you care to keep.


I think this may depend on the amount of water they  have available.  In my climate (very dry summers) the Passiflora vines often don't fruit very much or get more than 36" long.  Then in a wetter-than-usual summer they may get thirty feet long and make dozens of fruits. 

Anyway I have several patches close to Osage Orange trees and they try to climb up into the trees every year that they get enough water.  But the next year the vines often don't even try to climb the same tree; they don't appear to have enough climbing vigor.  I've yet to see a tree stressed by a Passiflora vine, much less killed.

It's just a theory about the water issue.  But I'm confident there's something region-or-site specific about the potential for danger to trees.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Could just be that great soil at Buzzard's Roost  . I'm sure you're right about the water availability.
I distributed the seeds that I didn't eat along the same fence but further down. I probably should have considered the proximity to the big spice berry bush.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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It may have a lot to do with our soil but mostly I think it has to do with how tight they grip the branches and their leaves literally blotting out the sun to the tree leaves.
In the four years we've owned Buzzard's Roost, we have never had a year that the maypops were less than 20 feet long.
I just pulled all the fruits form one vine and got 27 of them for the hogs.

We have been averaging 48.6 inches of rain the last two years, this year may raise that average a bit, so far we have gotten 54.4 inches for 2016.
Arkansas seems to be headed towards border line rain forest, usually we have two monsoon like sessions, spring and fall with no rain for August.
This year we have not experienced a month with out at least 3 inches of rain fall. 

Redhawk
 
Dylan Mulder
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:I wonder if the one I tried is fully ripe yet. Do they get even juicier and sweeter or is this as good as it gets?


The one you posted in the picture looks unripe, judging by the milky white arils, whereas a ripe fruit has translucent arils. They're quite disgusting at that milky stage, in my opinion - I felt physically ill after eating a few unripe arils, so exercise caution.

The easiest way to tell if a maypop is ready to eat is to simply sniff it. Ripe fruits have a distinct and pleasant* floral aroma. Unripe fruits are odorless.

*YMMV. To me it smells floral and tropical - banana esque. I've heard others describe it as leather, rubber, and even urine.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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A truly ripe and sweet passion fruit will be yellowish in color and the skin will be starting to wrinkle.
Green they are truly horrible to taste, fully ripe they are sweet.
For me the biggest problem is all the seeds, most of ours go to the hogs who eat them with gusto and poop the seeds all over their pen to grow next year.
Interestingly, the hogs will refuse to eat the vines until late in the year, when they systematically eat the whole plant to the ground.

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Dylan,
Your post reminded me to go out and check the remaining fruits.
There are 19 left on the vine, as far as I can see. They all still have smooth skins. We've had two significant frosts so far and you can see where it has turned the skins greenish white on their upper surfaces. I opened another one to smell and taste. Smells a little like wet grass to me. I tasted only 2 arils (thanks for the proper word) and they were as I reported last time. I distributed the remaining arils along the same fence.

I took your advice and tried to ripen some off the vine but I may have plucked those way too early. They did wrinkle and turn yellowish but clearly unripe inside when I checked them.

What do you mean when you say "mechanical scarification"?

Bryant,
I didn't find these to be horrible but more like mildly lemon flavored and not sweet. I do like raw lemons so that part was okay I guess.

Don't you think they should have all ripened by now? I don't know when to expect them to be at their best here (zone7). It could have to do with our rains this year. It was one extreme to the other there.

The vines that the cows could reach have been eaten awhile back.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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ours ripen beginning around the middle of October, we still have a lot of green ones now but many did ripen.

Since we also have persimmons (which I like a lot better) I haven't really paid a lot of attention to the passion fruits unless they are ripe.
When we first got here I tried them at different stages and found they can be really bitter all the way to really sweet.
I too have found a few that smelled and tasted lemony but I noticed those, while still green and smooth skinned, they were also very soft when I squeezed them.

We mostly let them grow where they want to since the flowers are such great stuff for the pollinators, our honey bees love them as do the hummingbird moths.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I love the flowers. I think I will continue to encourage their growth just for their beauty and the other wildlife that enjoy them. (And an occasional taste.)
 
Dylan Mulder
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:What do you mean when you say "mechanical scarification"?


I ought to begin by mentioning that P. incarnata has temperate recalcitrant seeds*, meaning the seed germinates reliably, but only if the seed is kept moist during its journey from fruit to the soil.

My issue was, that back when I started growing them I only had dry seed*, which is a notorious challenge to germinate. Since I had a lot of dry seeds gleaned from eaten fruit, I ran a little experiment trying to germinate them.

First I tried hot water soaking, cold water soaking, and cold stratification, all of which yielded no results. I then tried damaging the seedcoat (mechanical scarification) using sandpaper, and got no results. Finally, I tried nicking the seedcoat using a pair of toenail clippers and got about a dozen seeds out of 100 to germinate.

I don't recommend this, but it did work. It's a delicate process with small seeds and I damaged a lot of poor little seeds doing this.

*Anyone contemplating growing maypops should take this into account before buying seeds online. The seeds are probably sold dry.

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I've used a nail file on nasturtium seeds before. Those are some really hard seed coats. Looks like your maypops are doing well now, Dylan, despite their trying start. Congratulations on your success.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The seeds of passion fruit are designed to pass through a gut system, this acid treats the seed coat which makes it soft enough to split upon germination.

If you don't have animals to eat the fruit and poop out the seeds you will need to replicate the process by using a dilute acid solution to soak the seeds in for good germination rates.

This can be done with acetic acid (log soak time) or you can use nitric acid or sulfuric acid (same as a car battery) just add 5 ml of acid to 100ml of water. (always add acids to water not water to acids).
A mason jar makes a fine container for your acid solution. When done you can neutralize the acid solution with baking soda (2 TBS for the above solution will do the trick).

You can buy sulfuric acid as a car battery rejuvenator additive at most automotive supply stores.

Redhawk
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Wow Bryant, that's impressive but way beyond my comfort/skill level. I picture, in my mind, scenes from the cartoons with soot on my face and my hair sticking up all over.

I wonder if I could get much results using either vinegar or aspirin. Does it have to be a highly corrosive acid to work?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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acetic acid is the acid in vinegar, I'd use white vinegar in a mason jar and just soak them till they soften (shouldn't take more than a few days).

All acids are best kept in glass containers.

Redhawk
 
Dee Kay D'Stuph
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Mehleh at whispers of eden in Powhatan has some. They were fruiting last week, and she doesn't baby them. I am going to get some when I have a place to put them...
 
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