Evergreen Passiflora alata, sometimes referred to as the winged-stem passion flower or fragrant granadilla, is a climbing plant native to South America. It may be found from the Amazon to Peru and eastern Brazil. This species of flowering plant has the potential to reach a height of up to 20 feet (6 meters), has beautiful red flowers, and produces a form of passion fruit that is edible and delectable. The plant does well in its natural habitats, including sandy dikes and embankments, rainforests, lowland tropical and subtropical conditions, and areas with a combination of the two.
In its native lands, the indigenous people call it ouvaca, which literally translates as “red star,” a reference to the appearance of the flower that grows on the plant. Passiflora alata comes from the Latin terms “passio,” which means passion, and “flos,” which means flower. Together, these elements form the word “passiflora.” The specific epithet alata, which means “winged,” refers to the 4-winged stems characteristic of this plant. The collective name for the plant family is Passifloraceae, however passionflowers are the more frequent name for members of this family.
The leaves of the Passiflora alata are shaped like an oval or an oblong and range in length from 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches) and width from 0 to 10 centimeters (0 to 4 inches). These enormous green leaves are lobed, and their lushness is maintained throughout the period when the plant is actively growing. Numerous Brazilians make use of them for purposes including diaphoretic, anthelmintic, and anti-hysteric treatment.
The plant’s lovely scarlet blossoms, which release a strong fragrance in the late summer and early fall, are likely the characteristic that draws the most attention to it. In point of fact, the perfume conjures up images of a mixture of sour and sweet notes, which hints at how the fruit tastes. The width of the flower ranges from three to four inches, measuring between seven and ten centimetres, and it has vividly red curved petals and a beautiful corona composed of filaments that are both purple and white and gives it the appearance of stripes.
Flowers produced by Passiflora alata are extremely gorgeous, and as a result of their color, perfume, and nectar, they are attractive to a wide variety of pollinators, including birds, butterflies, and bees. The pollination process supports the growth of fruits, which tend to emerge along with the flowers on the plant’s softer, drooping tendrils. This, in turn, encourages further pollination. The flowering season is often at the end of summer or the beginning of fall, and the blossoms need to be exposed to direct sunlight.
The locals place a great value on the passionfruit because of its huge size, egg-like shape, golden to bright orange colouring, and pleasantly sweet taste and flavour. The passion fruit is highly regarded by the community. It can be anywhere from 8 to 15 centimetres (3 to 6 inches) long, with a diameter ranging from 5 to 10 centimetres (2 to 4 inches), and can weigh anywhere from 90 to 300 grams (3 to 11 oz). When the fruit is split open, the inside shows a number of seeds that can be eaten encased in a yellow, pulpy, gelatinous flesh. In terms of its nutritional value, the fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as vitamin A, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Additionally, the fruit is packed to the brim with vitamin C.
The root system of the Passiflora alata is quite superficial compared to the massive amounts of foliage it produces. Additionally, both the leaves and the roots may contain a chemical called “passiflorina,” which is a sedative that has the potential to be produced by the plant. Because of this assertion, passionflower and its roots and leaves are occasionally used in the recipe for relaxing herbal teas. These teas assist to quiet the nervous system, making it easier to have a good night’s sleep.
Advice on growing and maintaining a Passiflora alata plant:
The Passiflora alata plant can be grown with little effort and does not require special attention once established.
This climbing plant matures at a rate comparable to that of a fairly quick grower, requiring regular pruning. In point of fact, even if pruning causes an increase in the plant’s capacity for flowering and fruiting, it also makes it easier to gather the fruits and flowers.
The Passiflora alata is a plant that grows best in warmer settings. It can handle cooler temperatures as long as they do not go below 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit), but it cannot stand the cold. If the plant is allowed to continue to be subjected to freezing temperatures, it will suffer from frostbite, and as a result, it will not survive the winter. Cultivating Passiflora alata outside in temperate climates is possible, provided the temperatures are not excessive. If not, it is typically grown indoors, where the necessary temperature and light levels may be maintained in a more precisely regulated setting. Gardeners and other people interested in plants are responsible for ensuring that the temperature the plant experiences throughout the winter is one that it can tolerate. Because of this, it is recommended to have it cultivated in pots so that it may be brought indoors more readily during the winter months.
It is best to repot the plant in the spring, as this is the time of year when it is most actively growing. Therefore the soil will be at its most ideal temperature. Remember that slightly crowded root conditions in pots tend to urge the plant to give more flowers. Consequently the frequency with which you repot the plant should be kept to a minimum.
To encourage the plant to produce more flowers and fruit, organic or inorganic fertilizers can be applied to the soil around it. Use fertilizers with lower ratios of nitrogen and potassium if possible to reduce the risk of root burns and loss of fruit production. The amount of fertilizer applied to a plant should be regulated according to its whole volume.