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Thread: What do you think of banana passionfruit?

  1. #1
    raccoon city's Avatar
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    What do you think of banana passionfruit, or Passiflora edulis 'Frederick'?

    Sometime soon, I would like to grow banana passionfruit, primarily for its fruit:


    According to Wikipedia...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_passionfruit
    ...several species of banana passionfruit used to be known under one species, Passiflora mollissima.
    Now, two popular species are Passiflora tripartita var. mollissima and Passiflora tarminiana.
    To add to the confusion, banana passionfruit has many different common names.

    The banana passionfruit that I am interested in has pink flowers that are about 3 inches long.
    The fruit is 4-6 inches long, is yellow, and is second in popularity (passionfruit-wise) only to Passiflora edulis.
    The vine quickly grows to 15 feet or more.

    Have you eaten the fruit?
    If so, how fresh was the fruit, and what's your opinion?

    Have you or someone you know grown the plant?
    What do you think of banana passionfruit?

    Thanks in advance,
    raccoon
    Last edited by raccoon city; 03-01-2015 at 05:24 AM.

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    I've grown both P. tripartita var. mollissima and P. tarminiana Alba. The first in Sunnyvale, CA, which has a climate much like San Jose. The second in San Carlos, CA, which has a similar, but slightly cooler (in summer) climate. The P. tarminiana Alba is an unbloomed seedling, however I've tasted the fruit of that variety, as well as other P. tarminiana strains.

    The P. tripartita that I grew had terrible tasting fruit. I've also had P. tarminianas with fruit I did not like. However, the one I currently grow is one of the better tasting ones. I think to get good fruit it's important to make sure it's from a good tasting strain. I'm not sure fresh is that important of a criterion, as taste can improve after the fruit falls. 1-2 weeks after falling is probably better than freshly fallen. Generally, it's a bad idea to eat passionfruits that have not dropped of the vine (unripe, they can contain cyanogenic compounds)

    The problem is, unfortunately, that I don't think any of the Tacsonias (the Andean group that includes P. tripartita, P. tarminiana, P. antioquiensis, P. parritae, etc.) would survive in the desert. These are from 6-10,000+ feet (2-3,000 m) in the Andes and that sort of heat is far beyond what they can handle. They can be thought of as similar in terms of temperature requirements to Nepenthes also from 2,000-3,000 m: the ultra-highland species. Just as Nepenthes villosa would not be a good choice to try in the desert, the Tacsonias would be similarly ill-suited (and quickly dead). The one Tacsonia that's being suggested as able to tolerate some heat (for example it can be grown in Florida), is the P. 'Oaklandia' hybrid originally sold by Annie's Annuals. They have the parentage wrong, and it's actually some sort of P. manicata hybrid. Regardless, it's not self-fertile, and one would need another Tacsonia as a pollinator to get fruit.

    Eric Wortman, who is the President of the Passiflora Society International, lives in the Central Valley up towards Sacramento. It's hot up there in the summer (90s, average) but with cooler nights, usually around 60. He's tried everything in terms of Tacsonia and the heat prevents it. He and (mostly) his wife have been working on grafting plants on to heat tolerant rootstocks so that they can grow them (with some success). Many, many people have tried to grow these in only somewhat warm or hot areas and failed. Some strains of P. tarminiana and maybe P. tripartita are probably slightly more heat tolerant than most Tacsonias. Maybe they could grow some place with summer heat like downtown L.A. Even then, I think places like the SF or San Gabriel Valleys might be too hot for them. They are not really that different from where Eric lives, in the summer.

    Unfortunately, the rather extreme temperature demands of Tacsonias don't really get mentioned by most people who sell seeds (or plants) of these Passifloras.

    There are other things that might work besides P. edulis, in the desert. Some of the P. alata types and hybrids, for example. Maybe P. elegans would work? I don't know about that one, but I've heard it's more heat resistant than its close relative P. actinia. P. elegans does have tiny fruit and flowers, but I've heard the fruit is excellent. P. foetida will produce small fruits (not all are self-fertile) and a lot of people really like the taste--I've never had it. There are others.
    Last edited by RandyS; 02-28-2015 at 05:28 PM.

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    raccoon city's Avatar
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    Thank you very much for your detailed response, RandyS!
    You saved me a lot of trouble.
    Because it won't grow where I live, I am no longer interested in banana passionfruit.

    I did some research and it turns out that a different passionfruit, Passiflora edulis 'Frederick', should grows in Palm Desert.
    My gardening bible, Sunset Western Garden Book, says to give the species Passiflora edulis wind protection.

    My new question for everyone is, how much wind protection does the cultivar 'Frederick' need?
    Also, what do y'all think of 'Frederick'?
    Last edited by raccoon city; 03-01-2015 at 05:28 AM.

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    raccoon city's Avatar
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    By the way, these web pages say that Passiflora edulis 'Frederick' will grow well in Phoenix, Arizona...
    http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/70134/
    http://www.phoenixtropicals.com/passionFruit.html
    ...and if it grows in Phoenix, it should be good to go in Palm Desert.
    Last edited by raccoon city; 03-01-2015 at 07:31 AM.

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    I almost mentioned the Sunset Western Garden Book, because I'm aware that they do recommend "P. mollissima" for your area, at least in the older version that I have. Sometimes they get it wrong. 'Frederick' is a great plant, and I had also heard that it can be grown in the low desert (probably some of the same sources that you've found). I grew it in my previous location. Taste is good--I've never had P. edulis that wasn't. I think it's a better choice than the smaller, purple variety (P. edulis f. edulis, such as 'Black Knight', 'Nancy Garrison'), which prefers it a little cooler. I've been told that 'Frederick' is difficult to get fruit from in very cool climates, such as along the North coast and SF. The fruits just never ripen. Those are the same areas where the Tacsonias truly thrive.

    I would be most concerned with giving 'Frederick' protection from the hottest afternoon sun. I grew it on a North-facing fence (so considerable shade), and it bloomed and made fruit.

    I actually have fresh seeds from 'Frederick', if you want any. However, as a hybrid, the seedlings will be different than true 'Frederick'. The difference may or may not be significant... It would also be quicker to start with a cutting or a plant. Cuttings can be either easy or tricky to root, depending on a number of factors. I think it's often sold as a bigger plant (5 gallon, often with buds, flowers, and or fruit), but if you can find it in a 1 gallon it should be about $15. Surely there are a number of people on this forum who grow the plant. I got my plant in my previous location from Grassy Knoll Exotics (it arrived with a bud, in a 4 inch pot), whom I would recommend enthusiastically, but I think you should be able to find something bigger, somewhere in Southern California. It may only be available certain times of the year, and it might be worth special ordering from a local nursery, if it's not available in your area.

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    raccoon city's Avatar
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    I have the 2001 and 2007 Western Garden Book, and they do sometimes get it wrong.
    That's what the internet is for.

    Oh, and thanks for the seed offer, but I'll be buying a mature vine.
    When I'm ready, I'll hit Home Depot and Lowe's.
    If that doesn't work, I'll probably get the plant online from EasyToGrowBulbs or their sister site, WillowCreekGardens.
    They have vines in a 5.5" pot for a little less than what GKPlants has in a 4" pot.
    Last edited by raccoon city; 03-03-2015 at 08:46 AM.

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    Just thought I'd mention that Grassy Knoll has 'Frederick' on sale today for $6 (their "Daily Deal"). I also have a couple rooted cuttings from a friend's plant which I don't plan to keep.

    Patrick Worley had an interesting post a couple weeks ago in one of the Passiflora forums. He said that true P. edulis 'Frederick' has become very hard to find. Apparently most of what is being sold is grown at some point from seed, and he says all attempts to grow from seed yield inferior plants. I don't know how my friend's plant (that I have cuttings of) or the one that Grassy Knoll sells fit into this situation.
    Last edited by RandyS; 04-11-2015 at 09:48 AM.

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