Maypop Passionfruit and butterflys

Posted: 28th January 2014 by Joe Prepper in On The Homestead, Permaculture
The Passion fruit (passiflora edulis) aka “Maypop” is a pretty cool plant. Besides being one of the most beautiful flowering vines I have ever seen it produces an edible and tasty fruit. I had several volunteers come up in the front yard this year and put on fruit.
flower
This summer we noticed what seemed to be a pest showing up in large numbers. Caterpillars were eating many of the passion fruit leaves.  I decided to do a little research to see if there was anything I could do to save the plant. Like many plants, I learned the Maypop has a special role in the life cycle of an insect. In this case, the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly. The  caterpillars looks pretty intense with thier bright orange body, purple stripes and heavy looking spikes. It’s colors, no dout, to let predators know it’s toxic. The butterfly’s apparently use the passion fruit exclusively as a host plant. Later emerging to create a field of orange wings
Defualt 1
Defualt 2
I am constantly learning the different plant and animal relationships on our little hill. The more I learn, the more questions I have. One thing is for sure, I am in awe of the innumerable things that happen around here that I am unaware of. I hope as time goes on I will learn to recognize these happenings.
For now, my goal is to build the soil and let mother nature take care of most of the big, and little stuff.
  1. Bippy says:

    One of the nice things about the passionflower vine is that it re-grows leaves super fast, because it expects to be host to the butterflies. I had a neighbor who always went crazy trying to kill the caterpillars, and another one who didn’t even notice she had the plants. At the end of summer both vines looked exactly the same- you couldn’t really tell which one had been chewed on by the caterpillars. And, we had more butterflies to pollinate, which is always nice!

    Don’t worry too much, if your plants are healthy they’ll bounce back.