gardening with vines is tempting, especially when you
grow out of horizontal space to use.
are romantic looking, winding their way around trellises
and arbors and across the tops of fences.
as the old saying goes, vines creep, then leap. Beware
of where they can leap — and then emerge.
Passionflower vine is one of those grand leapers. During
its first year in a garden, passionflower is polite and
prolific. The next year, passionflower turns into a rude
runaway, sending its roots deep underground and into all
parts of a garden.
plant expert Helen Hamilton of Williamsburg, Va., likes
passionflower, too, and knows a lot about its good and
plant has deep roots and colonizes to form
groundcover," says Hamilton, co-author of
"Wildflowers and Grasses of Virginia’s Coastal
a controlled garden or flower bed, this viny plant
should be located in a container, sunk into the
in design and looks, the vine’s three-inch lavender
flowers have a fringe of wavy, hair-like segments,
banded with purple and on top the five sepals and
petals. Three styles extend from the ovary in the center
of the flower, a unique arrangement that allows only
large bees to collect pollen, according to Hamilton.
Leaves are attractively toothed along the edges.
Passionflower is a host plant for the Variegated
Fritillary butterfly. Emerging early in the spring,
female butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves of the
plant and can produce as many as three broods through
the year. Caterpillars feed on the leaves throughout
summer and into the fall.
in fields, pine woods and fencerows across Virginia, the
plant thrives in the southeastern United States, Bermuda
and west to Oklahoma and Texas. The plant prefers rich
soil but grows in any kind. Full sun produces abundant
flowers; drainage can be moist to dry.
is a large family — more than 500 species of the
genus, mostly vines, shrubs and trees of tropical
America, according to Hamilton. Passiflora Society
– tracks newly discovered species and man-created
hybrids. Native to South America and sold often in local
nurseries, the leaves of nonnative blue passionflower
(P. caerulea) have five lobes, not three.
were discovered by a Roman Catholic friar in Mexico in
the early 1600s, according to Hamilton, and symbolism of
Christianity abounds: The combined sepals and petals are
said to represent 10 apostles (omitting Peter, who
denied, and Judas, who betrayed), the five anthers for
the five wounds, the column of the ovary for the cross,
the stamens for the hammers and the three stigmas for
the three nails.
have found drugs in passionflower used to combat
insomnia and anxiety, according to Hamilton.
name for passionflower, Maypop, comes from the hollow
yellow fruits that pop when crushed.
greenish-yellow edible fruit makes a tasty jelly. It is
the official state wildflower of Tennessee, she says.
other butterfly looks like the fritillary family —
their wings have a checkered black and orange pattern,
according to Hamilton. The most common, Variegated
Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia), features lightly
scalloped edges and wavy black lines on the upper side
of its orange wings. The underside is tan and brown,
making it difficult to distinguish from a dead leaf. The
caterpillar is orange with white spots and black,
branched spines; the chrysalis is a delicate pearl color
with a few brown spots and gold spikes.
are among the earliest butterflies, the first brood
appearing in early spring and two or three more broods
through summer and into November. They fly in open sunny
areas – fields, road edges, landfills; adults look for
nectar from milkweeds, dogbane, red clover and tickseed
sunflower. The female Variegated Fritillary lays eggs on
a native passionflower, maypops, mayapple and violets.