Seed of the Week: Passion Vine

Our dimpled mystery seeds from last week...

... are from a plant with a beautiful and unusual flower.

Do you recognize it now? The plant is called passion flower or passion vine, Passiflora sp.

There are some 500 different species in the genus Passiflora, and many new hybrids and varieties being generated all the time.

This species is the Mexican passion vine, Passiflora mexicana. It is native to Arizona.

The Mexican passion vine has a bilobed leaf, which means it has two lobes.

Leaves of other species may have many lobes. The lobes may even be unequal in size, like a mitten with two or more thumbs like the species below.

See all the partially eaten leaves? Do you see the culprit?

Here's a closer view. The caterpillars of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly feed on passion vines. If you are growing a butterfly garden, you will be sure to enjoy the colorful caterpillars and the butterflies they turn into. If you are mostly interested in the flowers, however, you may be dismayed because these caterpillars can defoliate a plant.

Just remember that in order to for the plant to produce fruit, it needs to be pollinated, and butterflies are important pollinators.

Beetles can be, too.

You might want to visit the link to see some absolutely jaw-dropping macro photographs of a Passiflora hybrid, with a lot of detailed information about the flower structures.

Aren't those photographs amazing?

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