A Passion for Maypops
If you are looking for an unusual, tropical, Willy Wonka type flower to add to your garden, then the native Maypop is it!
The first time I'd ever seen a passionflower was when we first purchased our property. We would visit the property on the weekends and walk all the trails. On one of our walks in May, we discovered the ground, which later we found out was the old home site, was covered with these exotic purple flowers that look as if Willy Wonka had added his eccentric touch. At first, I thought this was some flower that had been brought in by past owners, but with a little research discovered, they are one of the more interesting native plants we have here in Mississippi.
I've also discovered they are all over our homesteading portion of the property. The maypops grow around the orchard, and I've even wrapped them around the apple trees, creating a natural trellis. They have also popped up in my garden beds! I've mentioned them before in the Captivating Caterpillar Blog, as they are the host plant for the Variegated fritillary caterpillar. I don't mind them at all and love seeing them everywhere. I've spent the past two years experimenting with different ways to use this tropical-looking wonder.
They say that the term "passion flower" comes from the Spanish explorers who came across the flower in Florida. They described the shape of the blossom as the symbol for the "Passion of Christ." The vine can be very prolific, growing over 6ft in length. The leaves have three very distinctive lobes. Fruit will start to form closer to the base of the vine, and the plant will continue to set fruit as it grows, giving you young and older fruits at the same time.
There is a constant competition between the woodland critters and me when it comes to getting ripe fruit. I patiently wait until the fruit starts to turn yellow and fill out to find that a squirrel has reached it first!
The culinary uses of the Maypop are surprising! Of course, the maypops can be enjoyed plain once ripe, but after doing some research, I found many other ways of using the Maypop:
- Make jelly out of ripe fruit
- Sparkling Passion Fruit Cordial
- Maypop Vinaigrette
- Maypop Sugar Cookies
- Passion Fruit Cake
- Passion Fruit Tarts
Many parts of the passionflower plant are used for its medicinal uses. Such uses include tinctures, poultices, and teas. It is said to calm insomnia, anxiety, headaches, and hypersensitivity to pain.
The Maypop is a plant I'm making sure stays on my property. I love finding out how nature nurtures us through nourishing food and medicines.