Images © 2006 Dr Robin Kennedy

Passiflora lutea
Virginia USA 1753
Min -15°C 5°F or less

Passiflora lutea. One of the hardiest passion flowers if the soil is very dry over winter. Tiny flowers. It is herbaceous. Steve Eagle reports the little purple/black fruit as being very sweet. Plant kindly supplied by Noel Atherton. This has come through several winters in UK in a very dry sheltered but shady position, but hardly grows at all when it comes up. Not suited to the UK climate.

There is an interesting article in PSI Journal Vol 13 No. 1 about a very curious bee, Anthemurgus passiflorae, that appears to totally depend on P. lutea for successful reproduction. Whether P. lutea depends on this particular tiny bee for successful pollination of its self-incompatible flowers however is less clear.

Michael Abrams of Florida Wildflowers comments re Passiflora lutea,

‘These flowers are blooming profusely, climbing in dense foliage growing out of the sides of a 200-300 foot long drainage area, about 50 feet wide, running north-south, the east length of which is guarded by high trees, probably pines, utterly covered with grape vines, virginia creeper, smilax, you name it.

You can walk along a sidewalk along the street on the western side of the ditch, and these flowers are growing in a 3-4 foot high tangle of brush and wild grape, but if you follow the vines and step off the sidewalk you would probably be falling at least 30 feet into the ditch.

I don’t think any water is currently running though the area, but a pond of drainage water is collecting at the south end of the property.

The flowers also are climbing out of center the ditch, amidst vines, mimosa, scrub bamboo and amidst trees at any spot that gets good sunlight. Deeper in the ditch, there are plenty of large lutea leaves, but no blooms.

Along the sidewalk and in the sun, some Passiflora incarnata are blooming and fruiting. The site is like a small jungle. You could probably film a shot from Tarzan in there. But Tallahassee is like that in some places, and they actually did shoot one of those movies at Wakulla Springs near here.

The lutea get shade up until about 10 a.m. when the sun begins to creep over the trees. By noon, they are in full blazing hot sun, and still mostly in sun until late evening. Tallahassee humidity on most days is 90 percent or more, and temperatures are in the mid-90s. In evening, we often get brief thunderstorms and nights are in the 70s Fahrenheit.’

Text © 2006 Michael Abrams