Passionfruit Vine Defoliation and Ripe Fruit

I checked on my wild passionfruit vines this week and found something disturbing — severe defoliation!

Gulf fritillary caterpillar defoliating a passionfruit vine

Gulf fritillary caterpillar defoliating a passionfruit vine

So it appears that the caterpillar is a pest of the vine, but killing them would also lead to no more Gulf fritillary butterflies.  And since passionfruit vines is their preferred host, it seems a shame to exclude them from the food source.  However, if it want to see how these vines can grow and produce then I need to come up with another alternative.  The caterpillars also started feeding on the fruit.

Gulf fritillary caterpillar damage on passionfruit

Gulf fritillary caterpillar damage on passionfruit

I was able to harvest one ripe fruit.  The fruit had begun to turn a yellow-ish color and become soft.  The skin often begins to shrivel and look wrinkled when it is ripe.

Ripe passionfruit

Ripe passionfruit

The aroma is like tropical fruit and the flavor is reminiscent of papaya and mango, but there is a “wild” tangy zest as well.  The lingering aftertaste is something that some folks won’t care for, but I don’t find it offensive.  These fruit are difficult to eat.  The pulp (aril) adheres to the seed tightly and is difficult to get off even with your teeth.

 

Arils inside the passionfruit

Arils inside the passionfruit

Each aril separates and contains an individual seed

Each aril separates and contains an individual seed

The seeds are black and hard, so not really an option to “crunch” and eat.  They are not really large, but large enough to be noticed.

Passionfruit seed next to a paper clip

Passionfruit seed next to a paper clip

The fruit came in at 12 degrees brix.   So it is comparable in sweetness to a good blackberry or blueberry.  There are more fruit on the vines so I will report more if I see anything of value.  This year is just the observational year to see how they do and decide what to do next.  Some of the vines are promising and others look poor.  Next year will really start to tell the tale.

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2 responses

  1. Had a client want to make wine with maypops. Seemed like a lot of work and hard to get enough yield to ferment. They’re not very productive and didn’t seem to ripe together. Tried to get him to make jelly instead since it would need fewer. I usually saw some insect feeding in Arkansas every summer. Not as bad as your pic, though!

    Used to be a big patch in Springdale by the lake, ready September or October. I usually saw them growing up through other plants. I wonder if that helped protect them from defoliation? They were growing in honeysuckle, mostly.

    • Yes would be difficult to make wine because of the amount needed. The fruit doesn’t ripen at the same time and there is lots of variability in wild vines. Individual fruit can be “juicy” but not comparable to a grape though. I don’t know that growing on other plants is an evolutionary protection against predators. I think more likely just where the seed happened to be deposited. Frequently I see them in disturbed areas, like corn fields and such, and also along fence rows.

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