Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Passionflower or Passionvine

Stupid, silly me. When I began gardening in Tucson, I discovered that the passiflora loved our sun and it grew like a weed with some water.  I wouldn't call this plant xeric, but it does like our sun.  It was the perfect vine and I fell in love with its' purple flowers.  Winter would come and it would die back to the ground only to come back in Spring.  For the first year, we had a beautiful relationship, but during the following year, I started to notice furry caterpillars eating the vine and I became jealous.  I killed them all because I was angry.  Who gave these caterpillars the right to eat this vine?  So naive and young was I......and stupid.  Who knew that you planted these vines in Tucson, not for the flowers, but for the beautiful butterflies that fluttered around them?  It was a wake up call for me and how our desert ecosystem works here.  I just wanted a green apartment patio. I hadn't thought about the wildlife that needed these plants in our desert to survive.  Some might call that selfish and ignorant on my part and they'd be right.  Today I use this vine as a background plant for the butterflies and not as a focal point.  If you plant this in Tucson, be ready for the butterfly onslaught.  The caterpillars will eat all the leaves leaving only the vine.  This won't kill the plant, but it won't make it pretty either.  However, this series is about butterflies and how we get them into our gardens.  By placing this vine into your garden, you are guaranteeing success.  What butterfly does it attract? Well it doesn't attract just one type of butterfly as it attracts many butterflies.  Depending on your gardening zone, the number and variety of butterflies will vary.  I've seen three kinds of butterflies around this plant, but the main one, the Gulf Fritillary, is most likely the one you may see in caterpillar form with its' spiky appearance eating the leaves. However with these caterpillars, you'll also see
the parents flying around the plant laying eggs.  If you want butterflies, this is a definite must for your butterfly garden.  Until next time......
Picture Source: Wikipedia


  1. Here in Australia we get the honeyeater birds attracted to the passionfruit flowers (we grow it for its fruit!). I cant say that I have noticed butterflies or catterpillars on it.

  2. Yes, I now appreciate the other wildlife interactions of using such plants, when I never did before.

  3. I think I know the perfect place in our garden/yard for this vine - I love how you took us from the transient beauty of the plant to the 'by product' of its beauty - the butterflies!
    Thanks, Chris, for another botany/biology/gardening lesson!!

  4. I love those blooms! They are grown as annuals here. I tried growing one a few years ago, but it didn't bloom. I don't think the butterflies here eat it, either, but I'm not sure.

    Yes, letting caterpillars eat our plants requires some education and bravery.

  5. I can't plant those here in NC, too invasive :(


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