Friday, August 4, 2017

Yellow passion vine, (Passiflora lutea)

The best presents are those you least expect.

Especially if the gift isn't easy to find. 
Yellow passion vine flower

So you know I did a happy dance a few years ago when I discovered a short length of Yellow passion vine (Passiflora lutea) beneath an oak at our newly-purchased home. 

I didn't expect we'd find any native plants beyond a few tree species. The house is in a small development where the land had been scraped bare except for big trees

Yellow passion vine isn't rare but I've never seen it for sale in a nursery or available online. You either have to luck into finding one on your land or know someone who can share.

Zebra longwing butterfly on lantana
Folks who love butterflies will also count this species a gift because it's a host plant for Julia, Mexican & Gulf fritillaries, and Zebra & Crimson-patch longwing butterflies. Butterflies visit yards with food sources...but the thing they are programmed to do before they die is reproduce. So if you want butterflies in your yard, put in plant species that butterflies need for laying their eggs and feeding caterpillars.

Butterflies will lay eggs on other passion vine species too, including Passiflora incarnata, commonly known as Maypop. Both varieties have naturalized in more than 20 U.S. states, generally from the midwest to the Atlantic and south. Maypop can also be grown in pots and moved indoors in winter.
Gulf fritillary butterfly caterpillar on Maypop passion vine (Passiflora incarnata)
A word of caution, the world of passion vines includes about 500 species. Plant native passion vines. Exotics may kill caterpillars. Avoid red-flowered passion vines, and those with scientific names ending in coccinea and racimos. Butterflies will still lay eggs on those but the caterpillars can't properly digest them and won't live to become butterflies.

Yellow passion vine leaf
If you'd like to scout your area for Yellow passionvine, look in dry part-shade areas. The vine has tri-lobed leaves and climbs or trails about 12-15 feet long in good conditions. Don't worry if it climbs a tree, it doesn't dig into bark.

The vine grows well in limestone-based, well-drained soils and will get by with modest water once established. 

Yellow passion vine is deciduous in the Texas Hill Country but I didn't find a reference to confirm that for all regions.

Yellow passion vine flowers, May-September
the vine gets enough sun, it produces inconspicuous yellowish-white flowers May - September.

The Ladybird Wildflower Center website says that flowers are followed by purple or black berries attractive to birds. But in the two locations and eleven years we've been graced with this vine, I've never seen fruit.

What we have seen, beside the appealing foliage, is butterflies. 

Gulf fritillary on lantana
Copyright 2009-2017 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. Thanks for the gorgeous pictures, Kathleen!
    We try to attract butterflies here, too. Somehow we seem to have fewer than back in Karnes County. But we'll keep trying.
    Have a wonderful weekend,

  2. Thanks Pit! Plant native milkweed, and fennel/dill/parsley for a start on host plants. Maypop passion vine is good if you surround it with rosemary so deer don't eat it.


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