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