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Passiflora aurantia G.Forst. 1810
pronounced: pass-ih-FLOR-uh or-RAN-tee-uh
(Passifloraceae – the passionfruit family)
common name: Native Passionfruit, Blunt-leafed Passionfruit, Orange-petalled Passionflower
This is a native species, found in the eastern parts of Queensland and north-eastern NSW, and also in PNG, Malaysia and some of the Pacific Islands. Like all members of its genus, Passiflora aurantia is a tendril climber, developing filament-like structures from its stems that attach themselves to the branches of other plants, thus providing support. Two varieties of this species are recognized as occurring in Australia: var. aurantia and var. pubescens. The latter has hairy stems and leaves, and is found in the southern part of the range of the species.
Passiflora aurantia is a moderately vigorous climber with 3-lobed leaves, which are dark green and up to 7 cm long. The lobes are broad, shallow and rounded. The petioles are 1–3 cm long, usually with 2 glands near the apex, and stipules only about 1 mm long, or absent.
The flowers are characteristic of this species, and do not open completely. As the flower begins to open, the sepals and petals are cream-yellow, but they gradually darken to orange-red before the flower finally falls off. As flowers usually remain open for 3 or 4 days, blooms of different colours may appear on the same plant. The flowers, 4–8 cm across, are seen mainly in winter or spring, but can occur at other times of the year.
They are followed by green ovoid fruits up to 5 cm in diameter, slightly purple when ripe, containing greyish pulp and numerous black seeds. The pulp is edible, but not especially palatable.
This species is used as both a garden and an indoor plant in temperate climates, where it will do quite well if it is protected from frost.
The plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and some birds.The Cruiser butterfly Vindula arsinoe ssp. ada uses it as a food plant for its larvae.
It can be propagated either from seed or from cuttings. For seeds, use significantly overripe unblemished fruits, and clean and dry the seeds before attempting to germinate them.
Photographs taken 2010, 2012, Hawkings Point & West Point Road
Page last updated 11th January 2017