P. mollissima (= P. tripartita v. mollissima) questions

mark4321_gwJuly 6, 2008


I just bought a seedling of P. tripartita v. mollissima--the "banana passionflower"--on ebay. The grower says that it is the true P. tripartita v. mollissima and not P. tarminiana. I mention this in case the two have differences in their growth habits. I believe the true P. tripartita v. mollissima is also generally believed to have superior fruit, although I've never tasted either.

I haven't gotten the seedling yet, but I'm trying to plan out how to grow it. Unfortunately the space that I have for it is far from big--I've always seen these vines covering large areas, swallowing trees, etc. The basics of what I have is a 14 ft section of a 6 ft. wooden fence. I can actually expand a little bit beyond this, so that a more generous estimate is 20 ft. by 6 ft. But no more.

Is this a large enough area to get flowers and fruit? We should be in an appropriate climate--near San Francisco--a little warmer and drier in the summer: average 80/55 (plus the grower says that this particular variety tolerates a few degrees more heat than most P. mollissimas). What and when are appropriate ways to prune the vine? I've read that the vines of Tacsonias like P. t. mollissima need to be a few meters/yards long to bloom. Do I have enough space to get a long enough vine? Should I plant the vine at the end of my space to get a long vine (6 + 14 feet) or in the middle (6 + 7 feet)? Is it important to get a few extra feet and a longer vine?

Any insight or experiences with this species wouldbe appreciated.

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Hi Mark
Don't worry too much. You have plenty of space. Just plant in the middle & keep it pruned to the size you have available. Try to keep the roots shaded and keep it well watered. You are right that P. tarminiana fruit is not as good. The link should help you tell which you have.

Here is a link that might be useful: Passiflora tarminiana

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 2:52PM
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Good to hear that I'll have enough space. I was concerned after seeing all the monsters devouring trees recently at Strybing arboretum (Golden Gate Park) in San Francisco.

Those are great photos of P. tarminiana (is there a story behind the mottled flowers--virused?). The Ebay seller's claim that it is P. tripartita mollissima seems very credible. I assume that flower shape is the quickest test for those of us who don't know all of the other details. So I asked whether this was the one where the flowers were bell shaped and didn't open all the way. His response was that they of course open all the way, just that when fully opened the petals are downward curved, not reflexed like P. tarminiana. From this and a brief discussion as to what species grow in the park, I'm convinced that has considerable knowledge of these plants. And if he's a reputable seller--and I assume he is--they should in fact be the correct species. I guess I'll know when the flowers open.

He has other auctions on Ebay (and it sounds like he might sell the plants directly from his nursery as well). I've also seen a Tacsonia hybrid ('Coral Sea') on his Ebay auctions. So when I get the plant in the next day or two I'll follow up with a description in case anyone is interested in doing business with him. If my plant is as described it should be a very good deal.

On a different note...assuming anyone has read through the above. Does anyone know whether tourists in Peru/Ecuador would be able to readily find Tacsonia fruit or juice (banana passionfruit: it goes by so many different names down there apparently). My mom is off to Peru in a couple weeks to the usual tourist areas--Machu Pichu, etc. Or is that something one would only find where the locals actually live and shop. She's with a tour group and I don't know whether she will have much opportunity to explore.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:07PM
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I just wanted to follow up on the above. I received the plant from the Ebay auction and it is absolutely flawless. They grower tells me it is about 1 year old--it has 4 growing points--the longest vine is probably about a foot and a half long if you stretched it out. Just a beautiful plant. So of course I would encourage others to do business with this seller. He has other auctions on Ebay right now, including two more P. tripartita v. mollissima and one 'Coral Sea'. You can also order through him independent of his Ebay auctions--his prices are very low. The name of his nursery is Potato Rock.

Here is a link that might be useful: Potato Rock Nursery

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 8:19PM
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Myles, thanks again. I looked into a couple things in greater depth.

You mentioned that the stipules are different. The difference is clear, and illustrated nicely in "Passiflora: Passionflowers of the World" by Ulmer and MacDougal. If you search for this book in Amazon, click "search inside" and search for first "stipule tarminiana" then "stipule tripartita" (but drop the quotes). These will be on pages 356 and 358 respectively. Also do a separate google search for "distinguishing P. tripartita var. mollissima"--all in quotes--to see a photo. By the stipules alone, it is clear that my plant is not P. tarminiana (assuming the stipules do not change radically as the plant matures).

Also, the tops of the leaves are covered with dense tiny hairs (so I'm told--It required magnification, which I personally didn't see.) Hairs on the upper part of the leaf also seems to rule out P. tarminiana. The leaves are not at all glossy.

So far, so good.

Stipule was a new word for me--from Wikipedia: "In botany, stipule (Latin stipula: straw, stalk[1]) is a term coined by Linnaeus[1] which refers to outgrowths borne on either side of the base of a leafstalk (the petiole)."

Here is a link that might be useful: Passiflora: Passionflowers of the World

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 4:23PM
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ethane(9 FL)

When your mom goes to Ecuador it shouldn't be too hard for her to find a fruit market or a street seller with passion fruit. Make sure you show your mom what they look like and try to find out what the name is.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 1:14AM
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Thanks, Ethane

She's already there. I should have made more of a point of showing her pictures of the fruit (she's actually seen unripe ones on a vine). I told her that "tacso", from what I understand, might be a good consensus name for both Peru and Ecuador.

I also told her to look out for Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense), which has a reputation for having some of the tastiest juice on the planet. It's the national fruit of Ecuador (banana passionfruit is that of Colombia). As a Solanum, of course, it's in the same genus as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, plus all sorts of poisonous stuff. It's supposed to be a beautiful plant--huge furry leaves with purple veins--and capable of fruiting in the milder areas of California. Its juice is green.

For those in the Bay Area in particular, I found Solanum quitoense at Annie's annuals and perennials: normally $4.25, but 20% off ($3.40). For some reason their mail-order prices are much higher. It's a very hard plant to find in the U.S., and even then you want to make sure someone is selling a decent strain. Both this and the Passiflora tripartita v. mollissima are birthday presents for my mom--it's two days after she returns.

I've never eaten/drank either, but I suspect that the Tacsonia and Solanum might appeal to an overlapping group of people. Actually, if anyone has had Solanum quitoense I'm curious of what they think.

The problem...my mom butchers any word, including English words. Just before she left I had to correct her when she pronounced it "quit-O" and not "keet-O".

Here is a link that might be useful: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 6:56PM
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I forgot to follow up on this:

My mom had Naranjilla aka lulo aka Solanum quitoense juice several times in Ecuador. She said that most people in her group wouldn't try it.

She says that people were also reluctant to try passionfruit: "taxo" (banana passionfruit, a Tacsonia of some sort) and Granadilla (P. ligularis??--anyone have any ideas?--yellow or orange skin if I remember what she said).

Both P. tripartita v. mollissima and Solanum quitoense are growing pretty quickly in the ground.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 4:24PM
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