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.
Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
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.