Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 77 Passiflora incarnata

Common Names: maypop, passion flower, apricot vine Family: Passifloraceae (passion flower Family)
Image Gallery

a passion flower
The beautifully intricate maypop flower is a spectacular sight to behold with a complex structure fraught with religious symbolism.

Description

There are over 400 hundred species in the genus Passiflora. Most are tender evergreen tropical vines and most are commonly called passion flowers. Passiflora incarnata is an exception in that it is deciduous, can survive winter freezes and is commonly called maypop as well as passion flower.

Maypop is a fast growing perennial vine that employs tendrils to grab hold of adjacent shrubs, structure and other supports to lift itself to heights of 8-12 ft (2.4-3.7 m). The large serrated leaves grow 5-6 in (13-15 cm) wide by 6 to 8 in (15-20 cm) long. They typically have three to five lobes and are arranged alternately on the stem with flowers and branches emerging from the axil (the base of the leaf stem where it attaches).

underside of a passionflower showing modified sepals
This is the underside of a passion flower. Notice that alternating tepals are green, these being the sepals that enclosed the bud before blooming. Tepal is a term used for both petals and sepals when the sepals are modified to resemble the actual flower petals.

All of the passion flowers have beautifully complex blossoms and maypop is no exception. These have 2-3 in (5-7.6 cm)diameters and are composed of 10 white tepals arranged in a shallow bowl shape above which is arranged fringe of purple and white filaments, called the corona. In the center is the white fleshy stigma surrounded by five stamens.

Location

Maypop, Passiflora incarnata, is native to southeastern United States and is often seen growing on the edges of fields, along side ditches and other sunny, moist and fertile places.


Culture

Light: Full to part sun. Moisture: Light, evenly moist soil; mulch well. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 - 9. Dies back to ground in winter but recovers in spring. Propagation: Seeds, cuttings.

Usage

Grow maypop vines on fences or trellises or allow it to scramble over shrubs and trees. Every year maypops appear beneath my blue China firs (Cunninghamia lanceolata) The vines grow a foot or two and use their tendrils to climb from branch to branch to about 10 or 12 feet until frost kills it back to the ground. The buds open one by one beginning at the oldest part of the vine and proceed sequentially along its length. This is smallish but rather rowdy vine that tends to grow every which way and therefore looks best in natural and informal plantings. Maypops are mostly pest free but are sometimes devastated by caterpillars - which is a good thing if you like butterflies. The gulf fritillary is especially fond of this plant. Mature fritallaries deposit pinhead sized orange eggs on the leaves that hatch into ravenous caterpillars that will put the bite on the vine in short order. By permitting the maypop vines to scramble over shrubs you can share with the butterflies and enjoy the showy flowers while the support plant's foliage camouflages the caterpillar clobbered leave.

a maypop
The fruits of this species of passionflower are called maypops and are about the size of an apricot and have a similar, but stronger and more aromatic flavor (like a guava).

Features

The maypops are the size of a small hen's egg with yellow-green skin juicy, but seedy pulp. Indeed, it is the fruit of a related species (P. edulis) that gives Hawaiian Punch® its distinctive taste. Unfortunately I've never actually tasted a maypop! This is because the fruits should be left to fall from the vine to insure that they are ripe and invariably some other hungry creature finds them before I do! They are said to taste a lot like guavas which I don't like anyway! (... does that sound like sour grapes... er, maypops?)

Want more passion? Floridata has profiles of other members of the genus Passifloraceae: blue passionflower (P. caerulea) and red passionflower (P. racemosa) in which you can read about the religious symbology of these fabulously fancy flowers.

Steve Christman 12/01/96; updated 01/03/01, 07/11/02, 08/23/03



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Passiflora species profiled on Floridata:


Passiflora caerulea

( blue passionflower, hardy passionflower, deciduous passionflower )

Passiflora incarnata

( maypop, passion flower, apricot vine )

Passiflora racemosa

( red passionflower,, red passion vine )

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