Parts of the Passiflora

Passiflora is the botanical genus name for a large group of mainly vining climbing plants native to all continents except Africa, Europe and Antarctica. More commonly called "passion flower" or "granadilla," some Passiflora species grow as annual wildflowers, shrubs or small trees. While their use in gardens around the world varies according to species and tolerance to winter cold, a common cultivation rule is to grow them in fertile, moist but well-draining soils away from dense shade. They do not look healthy where dry or cold winds bombard them.


Generally speaking, members of the Passiflora have green leaves that are three- or five-lobed, although some species have simple tapering oval leaves, two-lobed leaves or as many as nine lobes per leaf. On either the leaf edges or on the stem petiole there is a nectar gland(s). The leaves are arranged alternately on the plant stems.


The most easily recognized aspect of the passionflower plant is its flower, whether colored white, red, purple, lavender, yellow or multi-colored. Each blossom has a wide tubular base and either ten or only five tepals that spread out to form a flat, recurving, or bowl-like shape. In each blossom's center is a stalk comprising a three-part stigma on the female pistil and a five-part collection of male stamens. Just outside this stalk is one or more rings of frilly, spider leg-like filaments.


Once the male pollen fertilizes the ovary at the base of the female pistil, thanks to pollination by an animal or insect, the ovary develops into an oval or round fruit filled with juicy flesh and many seeds. Depending on plant species, the fruits are usually yellow in color but vary in their mature size. Some species' fruits are aromatic and deliciously edible, while many are not palatable to humans.

Keywords: Passiflora characteristics, passion flower parts, passion flowers, Passiflora plants

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.