Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction … was not so tasty

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!


Archway Passion flower beginning to encroach on the copper beech hedge suurounding the patio

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:


Passiflora caerulea fruit and seeds

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?


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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14 Responses to Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction … was not so tasty

  1. I grow Passiflora incarnata–or more accurately, it grows in my garden. It’s a fairly common wildflower around here. Like your P. caerulea, the fruit is disappointing. I’m not sure if P. caerulea has the same growth habit as P. incarnata, but P. incarnata spreads aggressively via underground stolons.

    • That looks frivolous and fun. Interesting that it treats anxiety too. I haven’t heard of P. caerulea running underground, but I will have to watch it’s topgrowth overwhelming the beech hedge.

  2. Dina says:

    No passion fruits around here, but they look wonderful! šŸ™‚ Lovely photos.
    Wishing you a relaxing weekend ahead,
    Dina & co x

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Wow, what an unfoldment. Even if they aren’t a food crop, both flower and fruit are stunning!

    • There’s been a second flush of flowers since the heavy rains … so I am back to enjoying bee watching on the vines, especially since there have been some big (queen?) bumblebees around, pollinating them like they should be!

  4. Christina says:

    I grew some P.edulis from seed a few years ago, it all but took over the greenhouse, but very sadly no flowers or fruit. I decided it just had to go, I feared it would demolish the greenhouse. Passion fruit are very rarely available here – I’ve seen them for sale once in the past 14 years!

    • That reminds me of the year that I tried cucamelons. I put a couple of plants in the greenhouse and lived to regret that! I am amazed at the lack of the fruit in Italy.

      • Christina says:

        Italians aren’t very open to new things to eat. You only have to realise that a ‘continental ‘ restaurant serves food from other Italian regions.

  5. Beautiful! Too bad the fruit doesn’t have flavor, but at least your pollinators are happy!

  6. Sam says:

    We grew a lovely passionfruit (like yours) in our old garden. It was rather vigorous and our elderly neighbour complained that it was growing over on her side so we cut it back. Not hard enough for her liking because she kept on complaining and in the end it was easier to take it out! I do love them, though, and now we have more space, we should plant one here.

    • I suspect the ones over the archway will have a limited life too, for much the same reasons. In the meantime they have been tremendous fun and if I can think of a better location (bigger space) they could be a permanent resident.

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