Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Edible passion?

Down at the bottom of my garden the passionflower is still romping away up the dead tree stump as if it was participating in a competition in growing the most per week. I have started to snip away some of the longest shoots because I am afraid they will simply just hop over to other plants in my garden. I never anticipated the passionflower being this successful – certainly not in year two, what will it look like next year?!

Last year I had TWO flowers, this year I must have had several hundred so far and there are still lots of flower buds so if the autumn is nice to us and keep the frost away I should have flowers for perhaps 6-8 weeks more.

The flowers on Passiflora caerulea are so intricate, I never get tired of looking at them....

....but it is when I get them blown up on my computer I really can see all the details in full.

Look at those colours!

A bit alien, or what?

Isn’t it amazing?

OK, so normally passionflowers are grown for their amazingly sweet and tasty fruit, but growing passionflowers outdoors in Britain mean you are quite limited in which types to grow, most won’t survive the winter. Passiflora caerulea is quite hardy and is also evergreen in Britain, the downside is that the fruit, although not poisonous, is not very tasty – or so I have read.

Funnily enough, Sue at Green Lane Allotments had a post last week about her passionflower, and her dilemma about whether to taste her passionflower fruit or not. I have had the same dilemma and  wondered whether I should have a go or not. Today I made my decision and decided to write about it here. When I sat down to write tonight I checked up on Sue’s blog to see if she had written more about her passionflower tasting - and she had, she wrote today that she had decided not to take the plunge.

But earlier today I daringly picked one fruit and took it to my table. It was carefully inspected to see that is was whole and without any entrance for caterpillars or any other creepy crawlies, I really didn’t fancy any nasty surprises when cutting into it!

And this is what it looked like inside, the seeds have a lovely, deep red colour in a red juice. So I decided to taste them! I ate 3 seeds and at first they tasted a bit sweet from the juice, but when I chewed them they tasted very little at all. Quite disappointing but also as expected. You normally eat just the seeds and pulp on passionflower fruit, but in the name of science I decided to have a little taste of the casing too. I have never eaten polystyrene before but I can imagine that’s what it would taste like, after soaking in a bit of water so it got soft. I won’t repeat that bit, but I won’t say the seeds were yuck or bad or anything like that, just very disappointing when I know what the passionflower fruit I buy from my supermarket taste like. From now on I will enjoy the flowers and fruits while they are hanging on the tree and throw them in the compost bin when they have fallen off.

As an apropos to monster plants and growing like mad, my sunflowers are still flowering like crazy so I got plenty to cut and put in vases. The sunflowers makes me smile when I go out in the garden, it’s something about those bright yellow flowers that cheers me up.

Have you got  any monster plants in your garden? I would love to hear about it :-)
Oh, by the way, it’s 8 hours since I tasted the seeds and I still feel fine, I think I can agree with those saying that Passiflora caerulea is definitely edible, though perhaps rather disappointing in taste. Until next time, take care.

34 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing those great photos. Passionflowers are so fabulously unusual. I have tried to grow them over the years, but was always unsuccessful. I finally got a plant to grow this year after a friend gave me a couple of volunteers from her garden. Apparently, some people have great success with having them reseed in their gardens. Maybe I will too now.

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    1. I don’t let my passionflower fruit rot away on the ground, that way the seeds don’t get dispersed as I really don’t want hundreds of seedlings popping up everywhere. But my passionflower produces suckers that grows up as far as 1 ½ foot away from the base of the plant and I keep digging them up and put them in pots. I have found 6 so far and have given away 3 of them. My plant was a sucker from someone else’s garden 2 years ago, I think they grow faster than a plant grown from seed.

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  2. Beautiful photos Helene. I used to grow passionflower in my first greenhouse which was a lean-to and heated all winter long... I can't tell you how much I miss that structure and wish I'd kept it. My present greenhouse would be way too expensive to keep heated and is used only in April-May. I was always so excited when a passionflower bloomed... amazing structure in those wonderful blossoms... Larry

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    1. Thanks Larry, yes I am fascinated by the flowers too, wish I had space for another one so I could have a red one too, but I can’t think of anywhere to put it!

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  3. I just hope none of the seeds grow Helene as I only ever want one thuggy passion flower plant. By the way ours is heading up a crab apple tree!!

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    1. Same here, I just want one plants! So I keep picking up the fruits to be sure they don’t seed, but the suckers keep popping up and I dig them up too. I got 3 suckers in pots to give away if anyone would want one.

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  4. Fantastic passion flower shots. And your contribution to science is much appreciated... I've often wondered whether the fruit would be edible!

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    1. Edible, but not much of an culinary experience….

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  5. Fabulous shots of your Passion Flower Helene ,I bought one this year and too flowers were amazing .

    How every I planted in a pot and have now moved to my Greenhouse.

    I may move into garden in Spring.

    By the way how are you getting on with your standard fuchsia?

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    1. I suppose if you keep a passionflower in a container it won’t grow as big as mine? Not sure if it would survive outdoors in a container, but perhaps I could grow a second one in a container…that was an idea…

      The fuchsia cuttings I took of Mrs Popple are doing well, one died after 10 days, the other 3 are looking great so hopefully they will survive. Will keep you updated. I have taken lots of cuttings during September and will take some of them inside and put them in my spare bedroom when it gets colder. Just have to remember to water them as I don’t have any plants upstairs so not used to do watering there.

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  6. Another thought I may take the passion flower into my conservatory.

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    1. Is your conservatory heated during the winter? Will it not be too hot for it, not getting any ‘seasons’ at all? Is it a Passiflora caerulea you have or a more tender type? Passiflora caerulea can tolerate down to minus 15 C. Here is a list of hardiness of different types of Passiflora:
      http://www.passionflow.co.uk/downloads/Rusticite-Hardiness-Passiflora%20.pdf

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  7. Wonderful photo's of your passionflower. I had it in my garden and tried to eat the fruit too, but as you say not nice to taste.
    Have a wonderful day Helene.

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    1. Thanks Marijke, I was prepared for the taste of it, but I still had to try, was just curious! Hope you have a great day too!

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  8. I really love the passion flower, Helene. It does look beautiful but alien at the same time - especially close up! Don't worry about the fruit - just enjoy the flowers :)

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    1. I am enjoying the flowers, and I am so pleasantly surprised at how many flowers I have had this year. We have had an unusually good summer so that might be partly why I have had so many flowers, but I hope it will flower like this every year!

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  9. Good of you to play guinea pig on our behalf Helene :) At least now you've tried it you won't be wondering anymore!
    Very photogenic flowers and you captured them beautifully.

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    1. Thanks Angie, well, I just had to have a go you know! Next year I will let some of the lianas grow a bit lower so the flowers will be easier to capture with my camera, this year I have had to lift my camera high up to take photos.

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  10. I wrote about a crazy plant in my garden in this post recently. It's flowers will also make you smile if you love sunflower since it is a kind of sunflower. What lovely shots. And they are indeed amazing; in fact amazing is not enough saying..

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    1. Thanks, yes anything unusual is nice to have in the garden, as long as they keep to their allocated spot and don’t invade the other plants. I will have to do some serious pruning of the passionflower next spring!

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  11. Wonderful photos of your passion flowers and the fruits look nice too. I had this Passion flower a long time ago in my garden, it was growing like mad several years, than we got a severe winter and it was frozen. The sunflowers cheer everybody up, I should not like to miss them in the garden.

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    1. I have heard that even if the whole passionflower dies due to frost, the roots will survive and it will shoot from the base next spring. It is supposed to be a very tough plant here in UK at least, not easy to get rid of again, once you have it in your garden. Sorry it didn’t happen for you, but maybe you can try again in a different spot, maybe a bit more sheltered?

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  12. I know exactly what you mean about never tiring of the flowers; they are intricate and intriguing. I rather like to see the fruits hanging from the vine, although it would be even better if they tasted good. I hope you are still with us after your intrepid taste test. I trust you erased the experience from your poor taste buds with a very fine bar of chocolate.

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    1. I am just fine, thanks for thinking of me :-)
      I like seeing the fruits hanging on the ‘tree’ too, especially since I don’t have any other fruit trees in my garden – even though I have decided not to use them for eating.

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  13. Your Passionflowers are really pretty, and the fruits are an attractive color.
    I've never eaten the fruit, but I think you can make jelly from them. You could search the Internet for a recipe.
    When I was a kid, my brother and I would pull the fruit from the vines, stick twigs in them for legs and heads to make 'cows' for our 'farms' - good memories, we knew how to make our own fun back then!
    Lovely sunflowers, too!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. That was a fun story, passionflower cows!
      I have been wondering if the birds would eat the fruit but they don’t seem interested at all, perhaps they have found out that they don’t taste much too?

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  14. Oh what have you done!!??
    I grew a passionflower from seed a few years back but it simply took off over the fence & flowered in next doors garden for them to enjoy. So I dug it up.
    Now you've got me thinking I should have another go...it truely is beautiful...but this time I'll keep it our side. Off to find some seeds :-)

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    1. Or you could ask if your neighbour have some suckers left from your plant and ask to get one of those back, I think it will grow quicker than raising one from seeds. Mine took only 2 years from a 2’ sucker to what you see here….!

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  15. Ha, I feel rather dumb - I only now realized that passion fruit was related to passion flowers! I'm not even sure if I've had passion fruit before.
    It is too bad your fruit wasn't as tasty. The flowers sure are beautiful, though! I don't have any monster plants yet in my new garden - unless you count monster weeds!

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    1. If you've never eaten passionflower fruit you have seriously missed out, it taste so lovely! Look for them next time you go shopping, here in London we can buy them all year round in the supermarkets and the ones we buy here are dark brown/purple and should have started to go a bit wrinkly, that’s when they are ripe. Cut the fruit in half, you only eat the seeds and the pulp, not the outer shell. Taste heavenly as a sauce on ice cream or fruit salad, or sieved to get the seeds out and only use the juice.

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  16. Helene, your Passiflora is growing and growing and becomes nicer. I love its flowers, very unusual and pretty. As you did not like the taste of Passiflora fruit, will you sow the seeds?

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    1. No! Will definitely not sow any seeds, I can only find space for one of these enormous plants, I would not know what to do with lots of seedlings!!
      My passionflower sends up suckers regularly and I keep digging them up and pot them and try to give them away, but I don’t know many people around here that are interested in gardening so I have 3 more plants to give away already. And there will soon be new suckers on the way….
      The passionflower isn’t going to die down in the winter, it will survive - it is even evergreen here in London so next year it will probably be even bigger. I am not looking forward to pruning it next spring but I will have to do that.

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    2. Hi Helene
      What a Story! :o)
      Those flowers are really a piece of art. Hmm, maybe you could pimp up the untasty fruit by making jam out of it. Some sugar, maybe some Vanilla or Lemon would give it a bit more taste.
      Yes, I've got a Monster too in my garden. Well, at least my hubby think it is a Monster, for me it's just a lovely rose. The rambler rose Paul Transon. It nearly died two years ago because of a very long and hard winter, but now it gets back to its old beauty. Sometimes I believe I can see the shots grow, they seem to grow every day some inches :o).
      Have a lovely Weekend
      Alex

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    3. I think I can see my passionflower grow too, when standing in front of it! Hope you have just as lovely weather as us, have a great Sunday!

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