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Ever seen a vibrant purple, star-like flower growing on a vine and wondered what it was? Well, the mystery is over because that beautiful bloom is called a passion flower! Also known as Passiflora or passion vines, this strikingly beautiful bloom is the flower of the passionfruit vine.
While most species of passion flowers are located in South America, eastern Asia, southern Asia and New Guinea (much like moth orchids and stargazer lilies, four or more species have also been found in Australia.
Because of the passion flower’s unique structure, large bees, hummingbirds, wasps or bats are needed to pollinate the flowers effectively, although some species are self-pollinating. Interestingly, the sword-billed hummingbird (which has a very elongated bill) has co-evolved with certain passion flowers, such as Passiflora mixta variety.
The fruits of the passion flower are the passionfruit – the Pavlova topper we love so much! This oval-shaped, edible fruit is widely cultivated for its flesh and juice.
History of Passion Flowers
A number of species of passion flower have been cultivated for their beautiful flowers as well as for their delicious fruit.
The passion flower was especially popular during the Victorian era. During this time, many hybrid passion flower were created using the winged-stem passion flower, the blue passion flower and other tropical species.
The French name for the passion flower (Passiflore), was used in the titling of a highly successful children’s book by Geneviève Huriet, La Famille Passiflore. In later years the book was turned into an animated series.