Crimson Passion Flower
One of the large, conspicuous flowers of the forest understory, the Crimson Passion Flower is one of the most beautiful sights when blooming! This woody vine is distinguished by large (up to 15 cm in length), grape-like lobed leaves with two glands at the base and cylindrical stems. Flowers, bright crimson in color, form individually along the vine in sequence. Flowers have bright red petals with red, yellow or white corona filaments in 3 series, and green sepals. Fruits are equally distinguishable, an oval up to 8 cm in length, green with white spots somewhat resembling a small watermelon! Fruits contain numerous seeds. The fruit of the passiflora vitifolia is sour but edible; it can take up to a month to ripen after falling from the vine, and tastes like sour strawberries. The passion flower blooms and fruits throughout most of the year. It can be found in the understory of the forest, as well as along the edges of primary and secondary forests and roadsides.
The larvae of several species of passion vine butterflies (subfamily Heliconinae), including Juno Longwing, Julia, Cydno Longwing, Hecale Longwing and Green Longwing, use Passiflora vitifolia as a host plant. Two species of ants are also known to visit the flower’s nectar. The fruits of the passiflora vitifolia are widely consumed by animals as food.
Found from Nicaragua to Bolivia, Venezuela and western Brazil, the Crimson Passion Flower is one of the most common passion vines in the lowland and foothills rainforests of Panama, easily distinguished by its bright red flowers. It can be found around all the Canopy Family lodges. The name “vitifolia” refers to the vine’s grape-like leaves.