Sunday, October 06, 2013

Fruit on the vine

Forgive me if I seem unseemly exited right now, but I've been holding my breath for a while and am finally confident enough to exhale. Why, you ask? Because of these, fruit on my passiflora tenuiloba vines:

passiflora tenuiloba fruit

Passiflora tenuiloba is a native Texas passion flower. It is very tiny, and thus not available in cultivation. That's a fancy way of saying you can't buy it at nurseries. Once I got into passion flowers in a big way 7 years ago or so, I decided to try growing all the native Texas species. This is one of the first I got--and promptly killed it by over-watering. Over the years, I acquired more through trades and even going out and digging some up (with the property owner's permission, of course). Maddeningly enough, most of those died from drought or being eaten by caterpillars or other such. The few times I coaxed blooms out of them, I only had one plant, and this species isn't self-fertile. So this summer, the one remaining tenuiloba I had in the ground beneath my big century plant seemed to be growing very well, and I was fortunate enough to acquire a couple new plants of unrelated parentage. Then disaster struck, when the neighbor's yard crew removed the trellis I had protecting the in-ground plant, and promptly mowed it down. I was, to put it kindly, not happy.

passiflora tenuiloba fruit

Fortunately, there is a happy ending to all this. The in-ground tenuiloba bounced back with surprising vigor, and began setting flower buds. Then, much to my surprise and delight, one of the potted tenuilobas set a few buds as well. Fast forward a few weeks, and I've got flowers opening at the same time. Hand-pollinating the flowers is no easy feat--they're barely a centimeter across--and juggling the tweezers and magnifying glass is a challenge. But my patience and perseverance is being rewarded with 11 tenuiloba passion fruit! Hopefully, I'll be able to coax some more out of the plants this fall, before all is said and done. And once they're ripe, I intend to contribute the bulk of the seeds to the Passiflora Society International seed bank, to make this interesting species available hither and yon.

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Chicken Ranch Central

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