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Plants: Species

Passion Vine Passiflora

FAMILY: PASSIFLORACEAE (Passion-flower Family)

Passion vines Passiflora are so-named because their blooms are said to symbolize the passion of Jesus Christ: the flower's lacy crown resembles his crown of thorns, its five stamens his five wounds, its styles the nails, and its five sepals and five petals symbolize the ten apostles who were faithful to him in his last hours (excluding Judas who betrayed him and Peter who denied him three times).

There are about 400 species of Passiflora, including some with highly perfumed fruits that are eaten as a delicate dessert. Passion fruits can range from egg-sized to those of the giant granadilla, which may weigh up to 7 or 8 pounds (3 to 3.6 kilograms).

Passionflowers are particularly crafty at protecting themselves: some species develop spots on their leaves that look like butterfly eggs. This is a turnoff to many a pregnant flutterer, since female butterflies shy away from impending competition and rarely deposit their eggs where other eggs are in view.