If you have ever gazed upon a passionflower or a passion fruit, you probably wondered, “What in the world is that”? That’s because the flower is so unusual, so gorgeous, has such a heady aroma, and the fruit, when ripened, is wrinkled, yellow and delicious (or purple, depending upon the variety). To date, botanists recognize over 600 species of this plant, scientifically named Passiflora, nine of which are native to the United States.
What is Passion fruit?
Passion fruit comes from the passionflower, which grows prolifically, usually as a perennial vine with bright green leaves. After it flowers, the fruit emerges and once it becomes all wrinkly, it’s ready for harvest.
Is passion flower an herb?
Horticulturists consider the passionflower an herb because it has culinary and medicinal uses.
Although used in many food and drink recipes, passion fruit has a long history of medicinal use. The Aztec Indians used it as a sedative and pain reliever. Modern herbalists proclaim it as a helpful aid in depression, epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and high blood pressure. Different parts of the plant, the stem, leaf, or the flower, are said to provide specific kinds of relief.
(Disclaimer: Do not ever ingest any part of the plant without first discussing it with a medical professional. Use with or without prescription medications can have serious side effects.)
How to grow edible passion fruit
Passion fruit is very easy to grow from seed. The vine species is a perennial, so it’s best to sow the seeds where it will have room to propagate, near a structure around which the vine can wrap itself. Other varieties grow as annuals and shrubs.The viny passion plant has tendrils that will easily attach itself to anything nearby, living or inanimate, so be sure not to let it choke out other plants.
Passionflower does really well in hot, humid climates and is a very self-sufficient plant, depending upon the species. In general, it grows well in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 10.
The flower blooms in early summer and the plant turns brown as cooler weather begins, usually in the fall. Remove all the brown, dead portions, which constitute the entire observable plant. Because the passionflower self-propagates, it should show up again in the spring.
Origins of the name “passionflower”
The passionflower refers to the passion (suffering and death) of Jesus Christ. In the 15th century, Spanish Catholic missionaries viewed the plant as symbolic of Christ’s last days, including the crucifixion. The website Passiflora Online gives a very interesting religious symbolic description of the various parts of the passionflower.
Passion Fruit Recipes
There is a plethora of passionflower and passion fruit recipes online – from passion fruit butter and passion fruit pound cake, to passionflower tea passionflower cocktails. Food.com has several popular recipes as does allrecipes.com.
You can also eat the passion fruit raw. It’s an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, and contains potassium and iron. One passion fruit weighs in at 16 calories. Eating them with or without the seeds is a matter of personal choice.