Scientific name: Passiflora incarnata
What: ripe fruit, juice, leaves
How: raw, preserves, cold drink, tea
Where: sunny fields, yards, borders
When: late summer through fall until frost
Nutritional Value: Vitamin A & niacin
Passion vine flower
Unripe passionvine fruit (maypop)
Inside of a passionvine fruit (maypop).
Three-lobbed passion vine leaves
Closeup of the passion vine leaf.
The maypop fruit is ripe when it turns from "Kermit the Frog" green to light green to yellow-orange in color. A better indication of a ripe maypop is a somewhat wrinkly skin whereas the unripe maypop fruit will have a firm, tight feel. Upon splitting the fruit you will see numerous seeds coated in a clear goo while the inside of the skin will have a thick layer of white pulp. Only the clear goo is edible, suck it off the seeds like you were eating a pomegranate.
Wild passion vines are rare in Texas so refrain from harvesting the low-nutritional value fruit unless it is very abundant. These vines seem to produce tons of fruit the year after a drought.
Tea made from the dried leaves and stem of the passionvine contain alkaloids with a sedative effect on humans. This tea can be purchased in Germany but is not for sale here in the United States. I don't know why. Passionvines can quickly grow to cover a large area so harvesting young leaves and stems for use in tea will help keep the vine in check. As with any medicinal tea, I don't recommend drinking it more than 2-3 cups per week.