Maypop – The Flower of Passion

Maypop (passiflora incarnata) are blooming here in Central Florida in April.  The beautiful large lavender flowers are stunning, they catch my attention and that of the local butterflies.  Also called the Passion Flower, these beautiful vines pop out of the ground each spring and grow aggressively until the frost kills them in the fall.

Maypop is the host plant for the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly and Zebra Longwing Butterfly, whose caterpillars eat it voraciously.  I shot this picture of a Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on a Maypop flower in April at Circle B Bar Reserve.  Maypop spreads from the roots and seeds, they are easy to grow if you can keep the caterpillars from eating them up.

Maypop’s large flowers are followed by an abundant crop of egg shaped Passion Fruit.  Maypop Passion Fruit is a unique treat.  The fruit needs to be very ripe, look for fruit that are wrinkling and ready to fall off the vine.  I often find fruit that has not properly set, the shell is empty and does not have the juice pockets.  Discard these, you can feel the weight of a ripe fruit full of juice.

 

How to eat the Maypop Passion Fruit;

  • Harvest well ripened Passion Fruit
  • Wash thoroughly
  • Cut in half to expose the juice pockets
  • Juice pockets can be juiced for drinks or eaten as they are.  Seeds can be eaten or spit out, whichever way you prefer.

Native Americans loved Maypop and cultivated it for the fruit.  I have also read the leaves can be cooked and eaten as greens and that the dried plant makes a medicinal tea.  I have only eaten the fruit, I leave the leaves to the butterflies.  Maypop has a mushy pineapple and citrus taste to me, but I have also heard it described as an apricot taste.  I think it must vary based on the variety and location.

Beautiful flowers, beautiful butterflies and tasty fruit, I love the Maypop I have growing at the 40 acre woods.

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4 Responses to Maypop – The Flower of Passion

  1. steve reber says:

    Hi i live in Decatur,Al and i have a huge field of passion flower. I personally use it for myself but was wondering what to do with this huge crop! One person wants to buy the dried flowers. Im not sure how ive looked on the internet and am having trouble. my experience is they wilt quickly. and when i have left out to dry they shrivel to almost nothing. I know to hang the vines and dry the leaves. Last question what to do with all this fruit? I guess dry them. or juice i would like to harvest it for my family of 4. does it freeze well? thnx steve reber any help would be appreciated or just links to other sites.

    • Brian says:

      Thanks Steve
      I have never had that much Maypop. I would not think freezing the juice would be a issue. I agree that the blooms seem too delicate to dry out.
      I would like to here what you end up doing with the crop, I may want to plant more for myself.
      Thank you for visiting my site.
      Brian

  2. Kelly says:

    I live in Nauvoo, AL. My daughter brought me one of the green pods last night and asked me what it was. I had never seen anything like this before so I have been looking on the internet to see what it was and came across your site. Very interesting! We have been living on this land for over 7 years and I have never seen the fruit but I do recognize the flower. Thank you so much!

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