Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Look at this.  A nondescript street in West Philly, exact location will remain a secret for reasons that will be obvious later. 

I was walking down Street X the other day, for no particular reason.  It was an overcast day and getting muggy, which meant more rain was on its way.  I wasn't even hunting for anything but, citybilly or no citybilly, you'd have to be blind not to see the maypop.


They're like purple helicopters twirling out of the unkempt hedge.

I took a closer look.  They were all growing on a vine, embedded in the hedge.

Weird flowers, like a constellation of alien purple suns.  And that strange flower growing out of the flower, looks like it's jumping out of the center.  It's an optical illusion.  With the alternating rings of white and purple colors, it's a kaleidoscopic flower on lift-off.  To me, it actually looks likes it's drilling into the open air.

This is actually the passion fruit, Passiflora incarnata, literally the flower of passion incarnate.  Passion itself, in bodily form, right before your ever-loving eyes.

But I actually prefer its nickname: the maypop.  Might just be because I found it now, in the rainy month of May.

What is it doing here?  Where did it come from?

I have no idea.  I don't know much about this plant at all.  A quick dip into my Dendrology Library and I learn that Pennsylvania is the top edge of its native range.  It's wild and it's native mostly in the south, where it flourishes in thickets, riverbanks, unmowed pastures, railroads and roadsides.  It's the state flower of Tennessee.   

Best of all, it might eventually yield the passion fruit, also called the maypop, that too sweet, too tart, too gooey, too seedy, citrusy treat that we normally get from South America.

Maybe.  I don't know.  I'm going to keep my eye on this vine, but I can't make it too obvious.  Those things?  In the supermarket, they go for about five dollars a pop.  

The fools.  I just might've stumbled upon a wild stash of free maypops, gonna make a fortune.


  1. This isn't Passiflora incarnata. It's P. caerulea, which is native to South America but widely cultivated.

    1. Thanks for the clarification, Doug. Looking up both plants and I can see where I made the mistake in identification. Thanks again.