Passiflora quadrangularis

Passion flowers are extremely interesting plants, first and foremost for the structure of their flowers. They are native to the rain forests of Brazil and Peru, where they climb up trees, catching hold with their spirally-coiled tendrils. There are more than 400 species. The generic name is derived from a fancied resemblance of parts of the flower to the instruments of Christ’s suffering (Latin passio = suffering, flos = flower). The specific name of Granadilla refers to the quadrangular glabrous stems. The heart-shaped leaves are 15-20 cm (6-8 in) long; the leaf stalks each have six glands. The fragrant flowers are up to 12 cm (5 in) across with reddish petals and white and violet corona filaments arranged in five rows round the stamens. The large fruits, sometimes more than 20 cm (8 in) in diameter, are edible and are a common food in the tropics. Other species, such as P. edulis, also have very tasty fruit. The berries have a very aromatic, slightly sour taste because they contain a lot of citric acid. They are either eaten fresh or used to make soft drinks and to flavour ice cream and other confectionery.

Passion flowers require a high level of humidity and liberal watering in summer. Restrict watering in winter for at least two months; otherwise the plants will not flower. Feed once a week; use a feed with a high concentration of phosphorus and potassium. Propagate from seed, which germinates reliably, or in summer by means of stem or root cuttings. These should be put in a propagator or in a pot filled with compost and covered with a glass jar. They take quite a long time to form roots.

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