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.