Friday, May 22, 2009

Adore Those Passionflowers

My husband told me today that I had to go down to the pond to see the latest wildflowers. They're spreading along the banks of the pond, and they're incredible.

The flower is about 2-3 inches wide...

I looked them up, and found that they're a variety of passionflower called Maypop, native to the southeast and an important larval food for a number of different butterflies. They're going to have a fruit "the size of a hen's egg."

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about them:

Traditionally, the fresh or dried whole plant has been used as a herbal medicine to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia. The dried, ground herb is frequently used in Europe by drinking a teaspoon of it in tea. A sedative chewing gum has even been produced. In cooking, the fruit of this variety is sometimes used for jam and jellies or as a substitute for its commercially grown South American brother, passiflora edulis (the fruit is of comparable size and juice yield.) The fruit can be eaten out of hand and when encountered makes a very tasty (but very seedy) snack: historically it was a favorite of colonial settlers of the South and Native Americans alike.

Native, useful to wildlife, and beautiful -- what more could we ask for? Look how beautiful and complex this flower is...

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I can't wait to see what else nature has in store for us....

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