Passiflora, more commonly referred to as passion flowers, come in over 500 different species. These flowers are exotic looking and are named after the resemblance their coronas and petals have to the crucifixion, or the Passion of Christ. This flower is a wild flower that can be found throughout the world in a variety of climates. In the United States a variety of passion flowers can be found in the Southwest along roadsides. While the exotic beauty of these flowers make them popular with gardeners, many Passiflora species also produce an edible fruit call the passion fruit. However, the only really marketable passion fruit comes from the species P. edulis Sims. This particular species offers a purple and a yellow variety.
The Yellow Passion Fruit Vine
The yellow variety of the passion fruit vine is best suited for tropical climates. No one really knows where this flowering vine originated, but it is assumed that it originated somewhere in the Amazon. The yellow variety of passion fruit is a hardy plant with woody vines. It is a climber and will need trellising to hold it up. The pollination of this plant is usually facilitated with carpenter bees. If this type of bee is not available in your area then you will need to manually pollinate your passion flowers. These plants are self-sterile, which means that you will need to cross the pollen produced by one plant with the stamen of another plant.
The yellow passion fruit is distinguished from the purple passion fruit in that it has a larger fruit and a more disease resistant vine. Its fruit is less flavorful than the purple passion fruit and therefore it is better suited for processed foods like jams, preserves and baked goods.
The Purple Passion Fruit Vine
The purple passion fruit is the variety of passion fruit that is commercially grown by most producers. It originated in Brazil and is now natively found between Brazil and Argentina. This variety develops smaller passion fruits, but each contains a higher percentage of juice when compared to the yellow fruit. Another advantage of the purple passion fruit is that it is less acidic and more flavorful. This is why it is used for juicing and for fresh hand fruits.
Growers of purple passion fruit usually are found in sub-tropical climates with medium to poor fertility soil with good drainage. This vine is less hardy than that of the yellow passion fruit vine and growers often have to deal with vine rot and other diseases. In response to these threats to the purple passion flower fruit, some growers are starting to cross the purple passion fruit vine with the yellow. However, many passion fruit growers are resistant to the hybridization of their passion fruit crop as they don’t want to degrade the quality of the fruit that they are producing.