Skip to content

Passionflower "Incense"

Passiflora edulis

A year after we were married we and a group of friends walked on an ancient pilgrimage path in northern Spain. Just before our arrival in Pamplona, we passed by a fence that was covered in passionflower vines. I stopped the entire group–about 12 of us–to marvel at just one of the flowers. All those tricks, special tricks, wheels and spins. It was a theatrical flower. Each bloom could’ve been a circus if it wasn’t purple.

After moving to Texas, I was surprised to learn that passionflowers were native here; I’d never seen anything like them in the midwest. So this passionflower holds the distinction of being the very first plant I bought to put in my garden.

This particular vine, I’ve since discovered, is different from the ‘passiflora incarnata’ that has big leaves and big flowers. It’s more petite, the flowers a little less glamorous, but smells wonderful and grows fast just the same. The main thing about this plant is that it can disappear within a few days from happy caterpillars. It took a beating last spring, sent out just a few cute flowers before it was covered every morning in chomping critters. After research I found out of course that these caterpillars just love this plant; it is their main food source. By the end of summer, their leaves were totally gone and the rest of the plant looked straggly in the heat.

I would love to have a plant for myself, and have read that some people buy extras–one for the butterflies and one for them.

butterfly eggs