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Purple passionflower, also known as Maypop, is an herbaceous, perennial vine that can be prostrate or climbing by way of axillary tendrils. The flower is extraordinarily intricate and resembles something out of a Dr. Seuss book. It has 10 lavender tepals, a purple-and-white-fringed corona, and a central “crown” of pink filaments. The leaves are deeply three-lobed and alternately arranged, with dark green upper and whitish lower surfaces. The fruit is a large yellow-orange berry with edible pulp that is typically born in late summer to fall.
Purple passionflower occurs naturally in open hammocks, along roadsides, and in disturbed areas. It is the larval host plant of several butterflies including the Gulf fritillary and Zebra longwing. The entire plant has known medicinal uses.
Native range: Nearly throughout
To see where natural populations of purple passionflower have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Soil: Well-drained, acidic to loamy soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 3–10’ long
Propagation: Seed, cuttings, division of root suckers
Garden tips: Purple passionflower can spread vigorously on its own, covering a lot of ground in a short time. It is deciduous and will usually die back in the winter, is drought tolerant and moderately salt tolerant.
Purple passionflower seeds are available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative. Plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery in your area.