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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - July 19, 2007

From: Watkinsville, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Edibility of fruit of Passiflora incarnata
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

We have Passion flower vines growing, blooming and producing fruit all over our property and the land nearby. They are growing wild. We are near Greensboro, Georgia which is barely in the Northeast part of the state. I love the flowers and I want to know whether the fruit is edible. I have observed it for several years and not yet seen any of the green fruit change color. I looked up some information and found that a variety that grows in Australia has green fruit, but it did not look quite like our plants. Can you tell me how to find out whether our fruit is edible?

ANSWER:

At least two native passionflowers call Georgia home, but by far the most common species there is Passiflora incarnata (purple passionflower), also known colloquially as maypop. Maypop's fruit is about the size and shape (without the fuzz) of a kiwifruit when mature. When ripe, the skin of the fruit wrinkles slightly, changes color to a greenish-yellow to yellow to brownish-yellow and softens. At this point the fruit (technically a berry) is edible. Yours should be ripening soon.

The seed-filled pulp of the fruit is the part that is eaten. The fruits of some individual plants are tastier than those on other plants of the species. Some people do not care for the taste at all. There probably is not an Emily Post-like way of eating maypops, but children just seem to know that you should break them open - they often make an audible pop in the process - and squeeze the contents, seeds and all, into your mouth where you strain and swallow the sweet-tart pulp and spit out the glob of seeds. Dainty no, delicious yes.

You are right that there is surprisingly little information on the Internet about this sweet summer treat. We are sure that as time goes by, more information will be posted online extolling the virtues of this wonderful native fruit.

 

From the Image Gallery


Purple passionflower
Passiflora incarnata

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