Passiflora incarnata, Maypops, Passionflower. This Virginia native wildflower begins its original range in Virginia and extends south and west. It is often planted as far north as Maryland and mulching can help prevent winter kill in colder areas. Several flower colors , including white, are known and fruit quality varies with each plant. Ripe fruit usually drops off the plant. Fruit ripens best in warm weather and gets yellow-green with black seeds and light yellow-orange pulp. To extract juice from the ripe fruit: cut in half, spoon out the pulp into a strainer that will trap the seeds and sprinkle sugar over the pulp. After stirring, the juice should seep from the mass and can be diluted with water for a flavorful drink. Many people just eat the pulp, swallowing the seeds whole. Like most Passifloras, Maypops generally need a different clone to pollinate; they are mostly self-sterile. Some clones are self fruitful. The label sent with the plant has a clone number (except “alba”) circled at the top. Purple and white clones generally pollinate each other.

Maypops enjoy well drained soils and a full to mostly sunny exposure. As mentioned in the catalog, this species can be invasive and is best planted in areas where the rampant growth and runners aren’t going to be a problem. Cover the rope-like roots and any blanched stem bases with soil, when planting. We often tie the rhizomes into a loop to fit in pots, there’s no need to untie the roots. Brush piles, arbors or open ground can be covered fairly quickly. Maypops are tolerant of many soils and rarely need fertilizer. The top growth dies off in cold weather and returns in late spring to early summer, after the soil warms up. Once established, large quantities of beautiful flowers, reminiscent of water lilies, adorn the vines. Fragrance is variable.

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