Portrait of a Passion Flower


Portrait of a Passion Flower
  • Posted June 20, 2014

Origins

Passiflora comprises over 500 species, mostly of tropical origin, plus the 700-plus hybrid forms that plant breeders have coaxed from its genes, some with flowers as big as a dinner plate and others that match every color of the rainbow.

Personality

The exotic form of Passion Flower seems as if it could have emerged from the imagination of a half-crazed artist and it certainly invokes the passion of gardeners who revel in the intricate arrangement of the lacy filaments and the prominent geometry of its stigmas, anthers, sepals and petals.

Earthly Delights

Not just for gazing at, the fruit of passiflora is consumed throughout the tropics and is as diverse in form as the flowers. Many are familiar with the passion fruit flavor found in tropical-themed beverages, which comes from the small round purple varieties, known as maracujá in Brazil, but there are also species that produce fruit the size of a football that is steamed and eaten like squash.

Curiosities

The passion referred to in the name has a sacred context, rather than worldly. The radial filaments are said to represent a crown of thorns; the three stigmas are a reference to three infamous nails securing a man to a cross; and the five anthers reflect the five wounds suffered by a man from Nazareth over 2000 years ago: the passion in passionflower is that of Jesus Christ. 

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Brian Barth
About the Author

After 15 years as a professional landscape designer and horticulturalist, Brian Barth embarked on a second career to share his passion—and the knowledge he's accrued—through writing. His love of plants is all-encompassing, but he has a particular soft spot for culinary crops.


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Portrait of a Passion Flower