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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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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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Saturday - July 12, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Corona de Cristo, guest or pest?
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

We have had two recent speakers at the Austin Butterfly Forum with differing views as to whether Passiflora foetida is invasive in Texas. One believes that it's well-behaved and a a great butterfly plant; the other says that it should never be planted because it is highly aggressive. I assume there's some truth in both viewpoints. Can you provide any information about the conditions under which it is invasive?

ANSWER:

According to the USDA Plants Database, Passiflora foetida is both native and introduced to the continental United States. It can be also be found in northern South America and the West Indies and in South East Asian countries like Vietnam and on Hawaii. The Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) lists Passiflora foetida as a perennial herbaceous vine that originated from tropical America, and is now a pantropic weed climbing over low vegetation on roadsides and in other disturbed places, especially in the tropics. Because it forms a dense ground cover, it can prevent or delay the establishment of other species. It favors wet areas and disturbed sites but can tolerate arid conditions. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council lists it as an invasive plant.

In conclusion, if you are willing to manage its aggressive vegetative growth and properly dispose of any fruits that form, you will find it is an excellent larval host plant for the Gulf Fritillary. It seems more likely that it would be more agressive in the tropical environs from which it originated than in the dry climate of Austin, Texas.


Passiflora foetida

Passiflora foetida

Passiflora foetida

 

 

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