Passion fruit is a perennial vine that produces dazzling flowers that turn into uniquely delicious fruit. This plant originates from the tropical regions of South America and is grown throughout the world in warm climates. It grows well in Florida and can go from seed to a mature plant in as little as a year. The passion fruit name originates from the flowers, which were used by early missionaries in South America to represent the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Specifically, it was referred to as “flower of the five wounds”.
The family of plants passion fruit belongs to, Passifloraceae, contains more than five-hundred species, though only a small fraction is grown for fruit production. Only one species, Passiflora edulis, is the most cultivated species for fruit production in Florida. Many gardeners already grow passion fruit throughout the state, though currently limited commercial production is predominately in the southern region.
The passion fruit vine can grow both quickly and to tremendous lengths, which allows it to climb to the tops of trees to reach sunlight. Similarly, it can be easily trellised on wire where it holds on with winding tendrils. Once the plant is mature it begins to produce beautiful, white-fringed flowers with a purple center during the warm months of the year. After the flower is pollenated, it will produce an egg-shaped fruit that is about the size of a goose egg. A mature vine can produce in excess of two-hundred fruit per season. When the fruit is ripe it will change from green to dark purple or yellow depending upon the variety. Inside the fruit is fragrant pulp and edible black seeds. The juice can be described as being both sweet and acidic with a strong fruity flavor.
This amazing fruit is something worth considering to growth either as an alternative commercial crop or a backyard fruit producing plant.