Flora of the Week--Passiflora Incarnata

Full Confession: I do not have

passiflora incarnata

in my current yard. I did in my yard in south Georgia, so the images for this entry are from that location. North Carolina is within its range, I just haven't found that "perfect spot" . . . yet.

Passion Vine can get away from you. Some people get around this by growing it in pots, hanging baskets or otherwise containing it. Passion Vine will root at any point along its growth, and it can come up long distances away from the main plant in the right soil. So be warned. All that aside, what a show!

The fruit of the Maypop (another name for passiflora) is edible and is eaten by birds, as well. But my primary reason for planting

passiflora

is for the butterflies. Oh, my, the butterflies.

Passiflora

is a larval host for ---well, a bunch of butterflies.

Gulf Fritillaries

,

Zebra Longwings

,

Julias

,

Crimson Patch Longwings

Hairstreaks

--this vine is a magnet.

Which species show up for you will depend on where you live. In South Georgia, I was regularly overrun by zebra longwings and gulf fritillaries. In the photo (left), you can see a Zebra Longwing (underside) laying eggs on passionvine. All the little yellow dots are zebra longwing eggs. Plant one of these vines where it can get some size on it (it will reach 25 feet) and you will have caterpillars crawling out of your ears. Or at least all over your trellis. Variegated Fritillary caterpillars will also dine on "purple passion flower," but they prefer violets.

Passiflora Incarnata

is the hardiest of all the passion vines, growing as far north as Missouri and Pennsylvania and as far west as Texas. It is herbaceous, dying back in the winter--then not wasting any time coming back up in the spring! Passionflower does best in well-drained soil and with ample sun, especially in the northern parts of its range. In the southern parts of its range, it will do fine in part sun locations. While it does like regular water, soggy feet will cause it to expire.

As with milkweeds,

passiflora

contains some toxins that provide protection to the butterfly larva. Be prepared for pretty extensive defoliation--vigorous growth may be its defense against what is to come, so far as the caterpillars are concerned. Regardless, with a sunny location,

passiflora

should continue to flower and fruit throughout its season (generally April to September).

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