Passionflower – “star of cavalry” – care

Passionflower belongs to the large (about 300 species) passionflower family, which includes many herbs and shrubs. Passionflower is a thermophilic plant, therefore it grows in the tropics and subtropics: in South America, Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, Sumatra, etc. Passiflora grows in a variety of places – tropical forests, steppes, savannahs and sultry deserts.

Winged passionflower, or Brazilian passionfruit. Farmer Dick Culbert

Passionflower (another name for the plant “passion flower”) is one of the most beautiful and unusual plants in the world. Passionflower is truly unlike any other flower. Inside the wide-open, brightly colored double perianth, there is an even brighter crown of long, straight or wavy filaments. In the middle of the flower there is an ovary with three cruciform stigmas surrounded by five stamens with large oblong anthers. It is impossible to describe passion flower. You have to see it with your own eyes.

At the beginning of the XX century. Spanish missionaries who followed Columbus to South America were amazed to see passion flower. The crown of his perianth seemed to them like a crown of thorns, the stamens and pistil – like instruments of torture, and all together – like “an instrument of the Lord’s passions”. Hence the name of passion flower, consisting of two Latin words – passion and color, which in the Russian translation means the same thing.

There is one more beautiful Russian name for passion flower – “cavalier star”. For its charm, sophistication and luxury, the passionflower was compared with the cavalier’s star – one of the finest awards of tsarist Russia, the star of the Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, adorned with gold, diamonds and pearls. It should be said that the great commander Suvorov was a knight of this order. This is the story of the second Russian name for passionflower.

Passionflower blue or Cavalier star or Passionflower blue
Passion flower blue or Cavalier star or Passionflower blue. Farmer Nacho

Amazingly beautiful passionflower flowers were sung by poets, painted by artists. In southern countries, passion flower was used as an excellent ornamental plant: thanks to its antennae, it twines around houses, gazebos and trellises. Passion flower can also be seen in city gardens and parks, and its image – in the paintings of famous masters of the XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries.

In many greenhouses around the world, passion flower is grown not only for its flowers, but also for the aroma of edible fruits, medicinal roots and leaves. The people of southern countries love passionflower fruits. Their pulp is juicy and fragrant, reminiscent of ripe gooseberries.

About 30 species with edible fruits are known, but not all of them have been introduced into cultivation. The fruits are of various colors – from yellow to purple. The shape of the fruit is also very diverse: oval, spherical or ovoid. Leaves are three- or five-lobed.

Passion flower is especially widespread. From its sweet and sour fragrant fruits up to 9 cm long, jelly, ice cream, sorbet and various drinks are made. But the most delicious orange-red fruits are in the passionflower reed. They are distinguished by a delicate aroma, and all kinds of sweet dishes are prepared from them. Well, the tetrahedral passion flower is striking in the size of its berries, which reach 25-30 cm in length and weigh 2-2,5 kg. They are served for dessert and added to fruit salads.

The edible tubers of this passion flower are reminiscent of a sweet potato. Its roots match the fruit. They grow up to 4 kg in weight and are widely used for food by the inhabitants of southern countries. To prepare a drink that replaces tea, the natives use the leaves of the Mexican passion flower and the silky passion flower.

Passionflower blue or Passionflower blue, cultivar 'Constance Eliott
Passionflower blue or Passionflower blue, cultivar ‘Constance Eliott’. Farmer Seán A. O’Hara

In addition to all the listed advantages, passionflower has one more thing: many of its species have medicinal properties (although it should be noted that among passion flowers there are also poisonous ones). The red-bodied passion flower is distinguished by its beneficial properties, which were known to the Indians. Its herbaceous parts are used to calm the nervous system. Passionflower has also been recognized by official medicine. It is part of the soothing drug Novo-Passit.

Passion flower has been introduced into indoor culture as a beautiful plant. Unfortunately, it is not wide yet. Maybe because the plant is quite capricious, demanding, sensitive to drafts. Most often, the Brazilian blue passion flower with fragrant flowers is bred, the beauty of which can be talked about for a very long time. It grows quickly, reaches 5-6 m in height, but needs a support for which it could catch on with its antennae.

Unfortunately, this species does not always bloom. But if it blooms, then for a long time, from July to September, although the life of one flower is short – only one day. As for the fruits of passion flower, there is no need to talk about them, because the plant is pollinated by insects and hummingbirds.

Passionflower blue, or Passionflower blue
Passionflower blue, or Passionflower blue. Farmer André Zehetbauer

Passion flower is picky about air temperature. In the summer he loves moderate heat, and in the winter he is kept in a cool room, rarely watering. Passionflower grows well in soil composed of mixtures of greenhouse, turf, peat and sandy (3: 2: 1: 1) soil. For normal growth in summer, the plant needs organic and mineral fertilizers. Propagated by cuttings in spring and autumn and by seeds. Sowing seeds is carried out in February-May. Seeds germinate slowly, so they should be soaked in warm water for a day before sowing.

It is rarely necessary to sow passionflower seeds, on wet compost, sprinkling on top with a five-millimeter layer of earth. After that, you need to put the sown seeds in a warm place (18-24 ° C) and be sure to make sure that the temperature does not drop below 8 ° C. To protect the plant from direct sunlight, cover it with polyethylene until shoots appear.

Passion flower at home requires a lot of attention, but a beautiful plant deserves it, and the results will justify your efforts.

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Passionflower - "star of cavalry" - care
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Anna Evans

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