Different uses of Passion flower in Mesoamerica


Thousands of passiflora flowers decorate the walls surrounding the FLAAR research center. This plant grows like a weed and tries to take over every square centimeter of space (we like vines like this when their flowers are attractive).

When I first placed my first passion flower seedling, butterfly larva ate the leaves so fast I was afraid I would loose all my plants. But the plant grew faster than the butterfly larva could gobble down the leaves. Today I have tons of vines and lots of happy butterflies too.

Most years the flowers produce fruits but since we do not wish to use any insecticide a variety of insects dig into the fruits and not all reach maturity.

Fruits of maracuya or passion flower. Photographed by Nicholas Hellmuth in FLAAR studio. Date: October 2013.

Passiflora is one of the more common garden vines in the tropics. We have a bright red species and the more aggressive lavender and white flowered species. Neither is native to Guatemala.

Around Chichicastenango there are many plants out in the wild. These produce fruits which are sold in Highland markets. But John MacDougal says these are not native either (even through they are along the highways and not in gardens). So far, in four years search, The first several years we did not find a single passion flower in Guatemala which is native, though John MacDougal says several species and many varieties are very much native to Guatemala.

We list two species as potential sources of flavoring, Passiflora ligularis and Passiflora quadrangularis.

Suzanne Cook has very kindly provided a list of passion flower species which are known by the Lacandon Maya of Lowland Chiapas. Neither Passiflora ligularis nor Passiflora quadrangularis are in her helpful list.

Flowers of maracuya or passion flower. Photographed by Nicholas Hellmuth in Chocolá, San Antonio Suchitepequez. September 2013.

After four years we finally had one vine of produce flowers which in turn produced fruit.

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Web sites on Passiflora quadrangularis


  • www.siap.sagarpa.gob.mx Servicio de Información y Estadística Agroalimentaria y Pesquera SIAP, SIACON, SAGARPA. Consulta de Indicadores de Producción Nacional de Maracuyá.

Almost nothing listed for the Maya area. I am surprised at the absence of so many important species for the Maya area.


First posted August 2014.