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Passion fruit

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Passion fruit
Passion1.jpg
Scientific Classification
Subtaxa / Binomial Name

Passiflora edulis

Passion2.jpg
Immature Passion Fruits

Passion fruit is a species of passion flower that produces a fruit about the size of an egg and is used all around the world in culinary and medicinal practices. It is native to certain areas in South America, and there are two main varieties: the yellow passion fruit and the purple passion fruit. Both are grown world wide and both are edible. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways.

Contents

Anatomy

Purple Passion Fruit cut to reveal the seeds

The passion fruit is about the size of an egg and one and a half to three inches wide. It has a smooth and waxy, but tough, rind, which ranges in hue from dark purple to light yellow. Inside you find a cavity containing a gel-like pulp and up to two hundred and fifty seeds. The yellow fruit, which is generally larger than the purple, has juice that is acidic and less of it. where as, the purple fruit is filled with an aromatic and flavorful pulp that has less acid. The juice, or pulp, is said to taste guava-like and have sweet/tart to tart flavor.

The plant itself is a vigorous, hardy, perennial vine, and the leaves are long with toothed margins. It clings to any kind of support with tendrils, and can grow up to twenty feet in a year. The deep green leaves are glossy on top and are tinged with either red or purple. The roots are shallow and woody. The the flower differs depending on the color of the fruit. Purple fruit flowers are clasped by bracts and five white petals and five white sepals; where as, the flower of the yellow fruit is more showy.

Reproduction

Most passion fruit is vegetatively reproduced by farmers, but when out in the wild the plant reproduces sexually, using pollination. the purple fruit usually will bear fruit if self pollinated, but the yellow fruit must receive pollen from a different, but genetically compatible vine. The number one pollinator of these plants is the carpenter bee.

Note: Some vines can cross-pollinate while others cannot.

It will take one to three years before the plant yields fruit. The ripening of the fruit will happen sixty to eighty days after pollination. Then, once mature, the fruit will fall to the ground. If left uncollected the fruit will lose all moisture and quickly become wrinkled, especially in hot, dry climates. The life span is generally short, about five to seven years.

Ecology

The Passiflora edulis or Yellow passion fruit

The Passiflora edulis has many uses, most of which are culinary. The fruit can be eaten cooked or raw - even the seeds. The pulp is used as flavoring in a variety of things, such as: desserts, drinks, sauces, and other foods. It is a commercial crop, and therefore is financially useful to countries like: Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and the U.S.

The purple fruit is native to South America; mainly Southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Northern Argentina. However, they are grown around the world. The yield of this fruit is roughly thirty-three tons to every one hundred and seventy-three acres, making it a good market crop. To add to this, the fruit will remain in good condition if stored properly at a temperature of 68F (20C) with a humidity of 36 to 45F (2.22-7.22C). Other methods have also been found that keep the fruit fresh up to thirty days.

When preparing the fruit all one need do is cut it in half and then scoop out the seedy pulp (some cultures do not do this). The juice can be boiled down into a sweet syrup used for sauces, gelatin, candy, ice cream, icing, cake filling, fruit soup, or in cocktails. The pulp is made into jam.

The fruit is also used medicinally. Juice is given in Medeira to help as a digestive stimulant and treatment for gastric cancer. The leaves can be used as a calming tonic, and in Brazil the juice is used to calm down hyperactive children. They also make a drink from the flower, called maracuja grande, to treat asthma, whooping cough, and bronchitis. The juice is used to treat urinary infections as well.

About Passiflora edulis

Origin: The purple passion fruit is native to Southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Northern Argentina. The origin of the yellow passion fruit is unknown, but is thought to be from the Amazon region of Brazil.

Adaption: The purple passion fruit prefers a subtropical, frost-free environment, but can survive with a little frost. However, the yellow passion fruit does not tolerate frost and is therefore more of a tropical fruit. The purple passion fruit does not grow well in intense heat. Both the yellow and purple passion fruit require protection from the wind; and both do well indoors.

Toxicity: In the pulp of all passion fruits, in all stages, is a cyanogenic glycoside. However, by the time the fruit is ripe enough to eat the level is so low that it is not a hazard.

Selection: When choosing the fruit look for something large, heavy, and firm. If there is mold on the skin it does not harm the fruit and can simply be washed off. If fruit is not ripe yet, leave it out at room temperature to ripen; but once ripe store in the refrigerator up to one week.


Fun Facts

  • Passion fruit is grown around the world
  • Some People soak the seeds in warm to hot water overnight before planting
  • If you want to extract the seeds from the pulp you can put it in a blender at low speed
  • To store passion fruit, wash and dry them and then place them in bags
  • Passion fruit is sweetest when slightly wrinkled
  • Only one of the estimated five hundred species of Passiflora is called a true passion fruit, the P. edulis Sims
  • General Names: In Spanish - granadilla, parcha, parchita, parchita maracuya, ceibey
  • General Names: In Portuguese - maracuja peroba
  • General Names: In French - grenadille, cousou
  • General Names: In Hawaiin - lilikoi
  • General Names: In Thai - linmangkon
  • General Names: In Venezuelian - parcha amarilla
  • In the Amazon over two hundred species of Passiflora have been cataloged
  • Yellow passion fruit is the most widely cultivated species
  • Through a twenty-year old project, scientists created a new fruit by cross-breeding the Passiflora edulis with the Passiflora incarnata. The result was tennis-ball sized fruits.


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