Based on the number of visits to the the wildflower detail pages in the month of July, the Purple Passionflower – Passiflora incarnata – repeats as the USWildflowers Native Wildflower of the Month for July, 2010. Purple Passionflower has been far and away the most popular species on the site for the past two months, and to provide more variety here, if it repeats again, I may need to set term limits.
Based on the number of visits to the the wildflower detail pages in the month of June, the Purple Passionflower – Passiflora incarnata – is the USWildflowers Native Wildflower of the Month for June, 2010.
The picture above is the fruit of Tennessee’s State Wildflower – Passionflower, Passiflora incarnata. I can report reliably that it is edible, similar to the species which is frequently cultivated in tropical regions – Passiflora edulis, although P. incarnata fruit is typically smaller than that of P. edulis. Passiflora incarnata is a plant native to the United States, while Passiflora edulis has been introduced to the United States and is found in the wild in Georgia and Florida.
“Maypop” is how we knew this plant that grew on a south-facing slope amidst blackberry bushes on our dairy farm in Rutherford County, North Carolina. That’s something of an odd name, since, at least in our area, the plant typically flowers in late June or early July. Based on my experience popping the hollow unripened fruit pod as a child on that North Carolina farm, my guess is that they may pop or they may not, depending on the skill of your technique and the maturity of the fruit – thus “maypop.”
But the origin of the name “Passion Flower” or “Passion Fruit” is more interesting, and is worth retelling here.
One of the southeast’s early summer wildflowers is Tennessee’s official state wildflower: Passiflora incarnata, the purple passion flower. The fruit of this species also gives this plant one of its other common names – Maypop.
Known to the Cherokees, according to Wikipedia, as “Ocoee,” this plant would then be the namesake for one of the southeast’s most famous whitewater rivers, the Ocoee River of southeastern Tennessee.