Friday, August 28, 2009

Passiflora incarnata

Homeschooling is a funny thing. It happens when you least expect it.

It is a gorgeous evening here in my neck of the woods, and despite the fact that both kids are battling sinus infections and ragweed allergy season is really kicking off - which is why I punctuate every sentence with a sneeze these days - I wanted to make the most of it. So we all got outside and played. We played on the trampoline and we played catch, mostly, but then I talked M2 into asking Oz if we could go see the pond in the lawn mower. Really this means riding in the lawn mower trailer that we can hook up to the back, but the kids know what I mean.

So Oz hooked up the trailer, we all piled in - me, M1, M2, and the dog that wasn't about to be left behind if I was going anywhere - and off we went. I thought we'd just go down to the pond, but Oz took us clear to the back of the property.

As we made the U-turn to come back, Oz spotted a plant. A familiar-looking plant, to him. Then he saw another one, and he stopped.

"That looks JUST like a passionfruit flower," he announced, climbing off the mower to pick one.


"And these look like unripe passionfruit!"

So we hauled it all back to the house to research.

Turns out it is, indeed, a form of passionflower, native to the region, a species called Passiflora incarnata. It is quite beautiful and, when the fruit turns yellow and gets ripe, is also edible!
The seeds and nectar are the part that are edible, though there are accounts of the whole thing being boiled into a syrup. The plant also has medicinal value and attracts butterflies and their larvae.

Crazy how you can live in a region for years and still feel like you've never learned a darned thing, isn't it?

Passiflora incarnata. And now I'll never forget.

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