The Blue Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea), also known as the Common Passion Flower, is a vine native to South America (Argentina, Paraguay (where it is widely known as the Mburucuya in Guarani) , Uruguay and Brazil). These names may also be applied to Passiflora edulis sometimes known as the ''passionfruit'.
It is popular with gardeners because of its intricate, scented flowers that have an almost plastic-looking appearance. The unusual shape of the flowers has led to the plant being associated in Christian symbolism with the passion of Jesus; the three stigmas representing the three nails used to nail Jesus to the cross, the ovary and its stalk represent the chalice of the Last Supper, the five anthers represent the five wounds, the corona represents the crown of thorns, the ten 'petals' (actually five petals and five sepals) the apostles (save Judas the traitor and Peter the denyer); the old leaves also represent the hands of those who persecuted Him, the young leaves the point of the lance used to stab Him, and the tendrils the whips of those who beat Him.
A woody vine capable of growing to 15–20 m height where supporting trees are available. The leaves are alternate, palmately five-lobed like a spread hand (sometimes three or seven lobes), 10–18 cm long and wide. The base of each leaf has a flagellate twining tendril 5–10 cm long, which twines round supporting vegetation to hold the plant up.
The flower is complex, about 10 cm diameter, with the five sepals and petals similar in appearance, whitish in colour, surmounted by a corona of blue or violet filaments, then five greenish-yellow stamens and three purple stigmas. Usually fragrant. The fruit is an oval orange-yellow berry 6 cm long by 4 cm diameter, containing numerous seeds; it is eaten and the seeds spread by mammals and birds. In tropical climates it will flower all year round.
A number of cultivars have been produced from the species.
''' 'Chinensis' . Corona filaments paler blue.'Constance Elliott' . Was raised by Kucombe and Prince in Exeter, Great Britain. It has pure white, fragrant flowers. Not as free flowering as many other clones. 'Grandiflora' . Flowers to 20 cm in diamter. 'Hartwiesiana' . Flowers white. 'Regnellii' '. Has very long corona filaments.
The species has been used in numerous hybrids.
Cultivation and uses
It is cultivated worldwide. Even though the fruit is edible, it is rather insipid when eaten raw. It can substitute for blackberries. More palatable is the fruit of the Passiflora edulis'' which is sweet and acidic. A tea can be made of the flower and is said to alleviate stress and anxiety. However, cyanogenic glycoside (breaks down into cyanide) has been found in the leaves. It is possible to boil away most of the cyanide..
In South America, it is used to make juice and delicious desserts such as the passion fruit mousse.
The flower of the passion fruit is considered as the national flower of Paraguay.
Passiflora caerulea in Topwalks
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Passiflora caerulea