I can’t remember how I came to have passion flower seeds (Passiflora caerulea) to sow, but inevitably I sowed them and a great many germinated. So then I had to decide what to do with them. I thought that a couple over the archway marking the end of the terrace would be a good idea, another would usefully cover a bit of trellis hiding the bins. Then, in a practise that is all to common in my garden, I put a few aside to languished in pots beside the greenhouse. Let’s not talking about those plants still in pots two years later, but concentrate on the archway pair.
Late last year, after an impressive amount of green leafy growth, I saw my first flower. What a beauty (and relief) that was!
I stand in wonder at the exaggerated features of passion flowers: their filament-like corona in concentric rings of black, white and blue, the jutting stigmas, the daggling rug-like anthers and, dominating everything, a large protuberant ovary, all served on a ring of waxy petals. So exotic for England!
A few more flowers appeared before the frosts carried them off, but there was no sign of any fruit. I kept my fingers-crossed that the vines would get through the winter. In fact, after what turned out to be a mild winter, the plants got off to a flying start. They have been in flower for several months now and each time I go through the archway I stop to watch the bees (and hoverflies) weave through the corona to reach the nectaries. The flowers seem to be extremely popular and are always occupied.
Pollination seemed a sure thing! Soon the ovaries started to swell.
Now, mid-way through August, the archway is festooned with the ripening fruits: small orange lanterns, hang down attractively:
So the question is, can people eat the fruits of Passiflora caerulea? (What you normally buy in the supermarket is the fruit of P. edulis. Passiflora edulis hails from South American, requires tropical conditions and is not winter hardy here in the UK).
Well, the answer is yes, but …
(i) Apparently, they are not worth eating, because they are so bland.
(ii) Care should be taken not to eat under-ripe fruits (yellow), because they can cause stomach upsets.
OK, Challenge accepted!
I picked a couple of the ripe, orange fruits. They felt soft, like under-inflated therapy balls. This is what they look like when opened:
In fact, they look pretty tasty, don’t you think?
I picked one up to sniff the red pulp and seeds, but there was no smell. No sharp zingy, fruity scent like the passionfruit I love to cover pavlova with. Next, I tried a taste. The pulp was definitely sweet, there was no discernible flavour.
How disappointing. So it looks as though the fruits will remain as decorations on the vine. Ah well, the archway is looking great!
Do you grow any passionfruits?