Darrell Blackwelder: Passionflower, a.k.a. Maypop

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 25, 2019

During my younger years, the neighborhood kids would play in a pasture behind our house. We were always fascinated with a vine that had the most unusual flowers producing green eggs that would pop when squeezed. The flower in question is a passion flower or maypop (Passiflora incarnata).

 

Maypop fruit, outside

 

The passion flower’s name was derived from 15th and 16th century Spanish Christian missionaries.

 

They were referring to the unique configuration of the flowers’ parts representing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The plant evolved in our area as a common vine found along the roads, pastures and fields but can also be cultivated as an ornamental vine.  The large, ornate flowers also attract a vast array of insects, butterflies and hummingbirds while the fruit is readily consumed by wildlife.

 

The vine thrives in full sun to part shade and can tolerate drought conditions. Passion flower vine is aggressive spreading by stolons with vine growth to 20 feet. It produces attractive, glossy foliage along with the beautiful light purple blooms. The leaves and fruit can be utilized medicinally for many ailments from a sleeping aid to help with menopause.

Maypop fruit, inside.

 

The ripened fruit are also edible and can be made into jelly. Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/passiflora-incarnata/ for more detailed information about maypop vine.

 

Darrell Blackwelder deblackw@ncsu.edu is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County

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