A wonderful farmer was selling Passion flower vines last Saturday at the Mill City Market near the Guthrie Theatre, close to downtown Minneapolis. If you haven’t been to the market yet, try to get down there. It’s got great energy, great produce, great vendors and great food. A shout-out to the Chef Shack. I had a divine vegan brat, that was really just a blank canvas for the broad spectrum of luscious condiments including sweet peppers, hot peppers, kimchi, sauerkraut, a apricot mustard, and the list goes on. A real treat.
The genus Passiflora has a reported 500+ species. They are native to parts of the U.S., as far north as Ohio. My farmer friend classified them as a zone 6 plant. He also reported that in the 1930s and 40s they were a very popular plant in Minneapolis gardens. I guess everyone was growing them and reportedly, even over-wintering them in well-protected sites. We will see. It would be a lovely surprise to see it sprout next spring.
It is a great specimen plant that loves sun and water. I stumbled upon one of the flower buds slowly opening yesterday afternoon. It was a dramatic reveal. Apparently it’s rather rare to get a Passion fruit on the vine, but the farmer has reported eating the fruit and it is delicious. You get about a tablespoon of the reported ambrosia with each fruit. So you definitely grow it for the flower.
Historically, Passion flower has also been used medicinally as a “calming” herb to help treat anxiety. Just looking at it slows my pulse.
The origin of the plant’s name actually refers to the passion of Christ. Spanish missionaries saw the many parts of the flower as depicting the last days of Jesus’ life on earth, most particularly the crucifixion.
- The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance.
- The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagging of Christ.
- The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (less St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer).
- The flower’s radial filaments represent the Crown of Thorns.
- The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail
- The three stigmata represent the three nails and the five anthers below them the five wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).
- The blue and white colors of many species’ flowers represent Heaven and Purity.
Passion flowers pop up often in the seed catalogs that start piling up in January. Maybe next year is your year for this passionate vine.