Passion vine, Maypop: Passiflora incarnata. A native vine and the most cold-tolerant of the passion vines. It produces an edible fruit about the size of an egg and is the host plant for caterpillars of the gulf fritillary butterfly.
My husband, Tom, and I once raised many Gulf Fritillary larva into butterflies with this passion flower plant. Tom would drive through the GT library driveway and pause and pick leaves from the plant then bring them home daily. Many leaves had more eggs and we successfully raised many caterpillars. Tom photographed the life cycle which Callaway Gardens used in their educational children programs. This was probably about 1975!
It is a passion flower. When I was a little girl, we called them maypop for the little green fruit that turns yellow. We loved to find the flowers and turn them into a little man sitting under a big hat eating banana. Using your imagination and your finger nails, just snip around the outer edge of the large purple part, then snip off all but 2 “arms” and 2 “legs. Turn it over and there he is!
This is the State Wildflower for the State of Tennessee. In the Nashville area as a child I played with the fruit, also. This year I have found several sprouting in my yard where none were before and dare anyone to cut them. I will try Maypop Jelly if they produce enough fruit.
These unusually beautiful vines have a beautiful, fragrant flower that produces a sweet fruit. Sought after by many, expensive to buy in the. Northeast . Fruit, when cut open reveals a host of many seeds which when dried and planted. Provides lots of plants the following Spring to be shared with friends & neighbors .
I had just seen this plant in the Encyclopedia it is named PassionFlower it is a woody vine that has unusual blossoms. Roman Catholic priests of the late 1500’s named it for the Passion (suffering and death) of Jesus Christ. The circle of hairlike rays above the petals suggested the crown of thorns that Jesus wore on the day of his death.
I’ve always known it as the maypop or the passionfruit flower. Momma told me it represented the five loaves, 3 fishes, and 5000 people who ate that day by the sea — I never tried to count those 5000 petals! The juice is delightful and tea (from the flower?) is supposed to help relieve stress.