Monday, September 24, 2012

Pasionflowers!


The summer of 2011 was a time of drought in Houston. Although I hand watered a passionflower vine I grew from seed, it never blossomed. Being an evergreen perennial climber, the vine made it through the winter just fine before being attacked by caterpillars in June. I thought it was a goner, but it stubbornly came back. One at a time, sometime well into July, single passionflowers started appearing. The blooms only last a day and are about the most exotic flower I've ever grown.

Reading about passionflowers, I learned they are considered an invasive weed in some parts of the Southeastern United States. I first saw a massive blooming passionflower vine some years ago in Orange Texas, and have wanted to try one ever since. We'll see if they invade and spread via their rhizomes like so many other plants in my yard. Weedy passionflowers are also known as "Maypops" because they tend to pop up out of the ground round about May. Along with their Christian symbolism, passionflowers are also associated with Krishna in India. The Germans call them "Mother of God's Star" and the Israelis the "Clock flower", so there is plenty of symbolism attached to this odd flower. I think they look a little carnivorous, and sure enough, there is one variety, the "Stinking Passionflower", that is considered protocarnivorous, known for catching and consuming insects. Passionflowers are pollinated by bees, wasps, hummingbirds, even bats. Some species are endangered, yet new varieties are still being found.

Passionflowers do grow fruit, especially in places like the Caribbean, South America and south Florida, and are mainly harvested for their juice. The leaves and roots have medicinal properties and tend to be used in calming, anti-anxiety tea blends.

 Partial to full sun is required for successful results and they bloom in mid to late summer. My vine is producing about two flowers a week; wink and they are gone. Yes, I used Miracle-Gro, but my vision of riotous purple flowers all over the back fence has not yet quite manifested. There's always next year!

1 comment:

Stitchwhiz said...

I grew some Passiflora this year. I purchased Passiflora Caerulea at Krogers and planted it in a sunny spot along a chain link fence. I had been warned it would spread and overtake anything in its path. It did great for about 4 months, produced many flowers and fruit. The Gulf Fritallary Butterflies laid eggs and ate up the leaves, reproducing in a most spectacular way. This went on for about 3 life cycles during that time. And then the drought and heat took hold and the plant died off. I'd like to try again next year and will most likely plant in a less sunny spot. Or maybe I'll just make a quilt. I purchased a beautiful applique pattern for a passionflower wallhanging the last time I vacationed in Hawaii. It's in the queue awaiting my attention! Or not.