At the Fullerton Arboretum
by: Alfredo Chiri
PASSION FRUIT - Passiflora edulis var. Black Night - Passifloraceae
Donated by: CRFG and planted in 1989 (r.f.-05)
Common names: Passion Fruit, Purple Passion fruit, Qarandila, Purple Granadilla, Maracuya, Flor de las Cinco Llagas, Parcha de Culebra, Chinola, Saibey, Po.
The Black Night variety is of the type called purple passionfruit which is native to southern Brazil, Paraguay, Perú, and parts of northern Argentina where it is known as Maracuya or Granadilla. In many countries the plant is known as the "Flower of the Five Wounds." The vine has also become established in Australia, Hawaii and some parts of tropical Asia.
The passion fruit vine is a shallow rooted, woody perennial, and it climbs by means of tendrils. It has deep green leaves with pale dull underside. The young stems and tendrils are tinged with red or purple.
A single fragrant flower is 2-3 inches wide and is borne at each new node of the vine. The bloom, with 3 large green leaf-like bracts, consists of 5 green-white sepals, 5 white petals, a corona of straight white-tipped rays with a rich purple at the base, and 5 stamens with large anthers. The ovary, with a triple branched style, sits at the center of the flower.
The fruit is nearly round or ovoid and has a tough outer shell that is smooth and waxy, ranging in hue from dark purple to purple with light yellow stripes. Adhering to the inside of the shell is a 1/4 inch layer of white pith, creating a hollow area. Within this cavity there is a mass of double-walled sacs filled with aromatic, orange, pulpy juice and with as many as 300 small, hard, dark-brown or black seeds. The flavor is musky, sub acid to acid.
Passion fruit flowers are perfect but self-sterile, requiring a pollinator. It has been found that carpenter bees (Xylocopa neoxylocopa) efficiently pollinate the flowers. Honeybees are less efficient. Wind is ineffective.
Passion fruit vines are grown in many soils, but light to heavy sandy loam is preferred, with a pH between 6.5 to 7.5. Good drainage is essential to prevent collar rot.
There is a legend connected with the name given to this plant. The basis for this story is based on the principle of the " Doctrine of Signatures" that was widely believed by learned men in the 16th and 17th Centuries. By this principle, a plant suitable for treatment of plague would be found in plague areas, and plants for treatment of heart problems would generally resemble a heart, etc. The legend has it that in 1620 a Jesuit priest in Perú came across the plant we know now as passionflower. Enthralled with its beauty, that night he had a vision likening its floral parts to the elements of the Crucifixion or Passion of Christ.