A passion for fruit

Kitchen Garden|June 2020

A passion for fruit
This month David Patch introduces one of the more unusual edibles you can grow-passion fruit,which has its original in South America but with care can also be grown in the UK
David Patch

Time for something a little more unusual. It’s always good to occasionally step out of our comfort zone and try and push the boundaries of what we think possible. Sure, there may be failures along the way, but there will also be unexpected successes that make us challenge accepted wisdom about what we can and can’t do. Trying to achieve the seemingly impossible or attempting a daunting task is at the heart of progress, and I think that gardening is as much about the growth of the person as it is about the growth of the plant. So for the next two months, we are going to look at two of the more unusual edibles you may be tempted to grow – unusual in that they are both climbing plants, and that you may have considered them far too exotic to even attempt. Next month we will look at growing kiwifruit, but this month we start with a real test – passion fruit!

RELIGIOUS SYMBOLISM

Passion fruit belongs to the genus passiflora, quite a large group of plants which are almost all climbing vines, originally from the tropical rainforests of South America. The first plants were introduced into Europe in the 17th century and by the 1800s they were widely grown in botanical gardens and private conservatories. The Victorians, as with many exotic plants, took their cultivation to the next level, with grand heated glasshouses in many private estates.

The ‘passion’ in the name refers to the passion of Christ. Early Christian missionaries arriving in South America saw a lot of religious symbolism in the flower and often used it as a teaching tool for spreading the gospel. The 10 petals (actually five petals and five sepals) represent the 10 apostles present at the crucifixion. The center of the flower is taken to symbolize the crown of thorns. Even the three-lobed leaves were said to represent the Holy Trinity.

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June 2020