Fruit of the Day: Passionfruit


Passion vine
Okay, so here’s a fruit that doesn’t grow on a tree! Surprising from me, I know. Most of you probably had passionfruit without realizing it: It’s a common ingredient in fruit punches to give a bit of a tang. It’s also becoming popular in more fruit drinks. You’ll rarely find whole passionfruit for sale (though Asian markets around me carry it when it’s in season). The reason for this is passionfruit isn’t something you want to eat like an apple. It’s a natural concentrate, so it’s perfect for putting in drinks (which is why it’s so common in them).

Unlike some of the other fruits I’ve posted that come from exotic places, passionfruit is actually native to Florida. That means it does very well here, and grows like a weed. That also means native bugs like it. Like these guys:

Caterpillar of Death

They ate all the foliage off of two passion vines, killing one. They turn into these guys, though:

Passion butterfly
The only thing they can lay their eggs on is passion vines, which is why they went so crazy on mine. Probably every passion butterfly in town laid eggs on my vine. Thankfully, since the plants grow like a weed, the living one rebounded pretty quickly, and I planted another one.

If you want to grow passionfruit yourself, know that yellow passionfruit is the better tasting kind, but it’s not self-fertile. If you want yellow passionfruit, you have to plant a purple passionfruit, too. Also, counter-intuitively, if you want fruit, you have to withhold fertilizer: If there’s any fertilizer at all in the ground, passionfruit will grow tons of leaves, but won’t produce any fruit. So passion vines will pretty much produce fruit and beautiful flowers on auto-pilot. Plant one. If you do, there will be more of those butterflies around and they won’t be so desperate for my vine, because they’ll have another one to lay eggs on.

Lastly, contrary to what the name seems to suggest, passionfruits aren’t aphrodisiacs. They were named by Spanish missionaries after the passion of the Christ, because different parts of the flower and fruit reminded them of different stages of the passion.