Passiflora foetida L. 1753, commonly called Santo Papa, wild maracuja or running pop, is a passionflower vine, native to the USA (Texas, Arizona), Central- and South America and the Caribbean islands, but widely spread throughout tropical and subtropical countries. Due to the likeness of the cute, small flowers to the Pope’s mitre, Passiflora foetida got the name Santo Papa. The epithet foetida means stinking and refers to the smell of dammaged leaves of the plant, which is sometimes described as unpleasant. Stems of wild maracuja are covered with tiny, sticky hairs, which are able to trap insects as they exclude a sticky substance that contains digestive enzymes. It`s still unclear as if Passiflora foetida gets nutriment from the insects,
but it`s considered as a protocarnivorous plant.
The short-living flowers (open just for a day) get a size of about 4 cm in diameter. Fruits get a size of Kumquats and are sweet and delicious, whilst fully ripe. Unripe Passiflora foetida fruits are toxic. Young leaves are edible and dried leaves are used in nature medicine as a remedy for sleeping problems. In some areas Passiflora foetida is deemed as an invasive species. Other names for Passiflora foetida, which reaches lengths of about 5 meters, are stinking passion vine, wild water lemon, love in a mist and marya-marya (Philippines).
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Image: Santo Papa Passionflower (Passiflora foetida)
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