Lycoris and Rain - A theory - 2 and OT Passiflora misc.

Jim McKenney
Mon, 20 Aug 2007 07:28:38 PDT
Lycoris squamigera is over for the year in my garden. Last weekend I was
traveling in western Virginia through some towns which were new to me, and I
saw many gardens with thick clumps of Lycoris squamigera in bloom. When I
say clumps of bloom, I mean fifty or sixty blooming stalks crammed into
bundles about eighteen inches thick. Some were much bigger than that: one
mass seemed to be at least a yard across! From a distance, they look like
tufts of cotton candy in the garden.  I wonder:  how old are these? The
soils in that part of Virginia are generally more nearly neutral in pH than
the acidic stuff we have here: I wonder, too, if that makes a difference. 

The plants I have in the garden here send up - very sparingly - single bloom
stalks as a rule. 

The small town where I stayed in western Virginia closes down at dark. It's
very quiet at night. The sky shows stars I've never noticed before. Sweet
autumn clematis and mimosa (Albizzia) were blooming throughout town: the
night air was sweet with these fragrances and others (including some not so
sweet ones from the surrounding dairy farms).

Back home, Passiflora incarnata is full of fruit now. It amazes me that this
plant was cultivated in England before there were permanent European
settlements here in the State of Maryland. Parkinson, in 1629, called it the
maraoc of Virginia, "the surpassing delight of all flowers". Take a look

One of my neighbors is from South America, and I surprised him the other day
by telling him I had Passiflora growing in my garden. Incidentally, he used
the name passiflora, too, as if it were a vernacular name. It was a funny
experience because he was so incredulous: I took him over to the vines, he
skeptically looked at them; I plucked a fruit, broke it open, and as soon as
I did and he saw the vesicles on the inside of the fruit, he lit up and
became very enthusiastic. We shared the pieces: they have a bit of juice but
otherwise are rather dry, and they have a sort of very sour initial taste,
refreshingly sour like grapefruit (but not a grapefruit taste), followed by
a vague citrus flavor. My neighbor told me that where he comes from they
make a drink from the pulp. We agreed that it would probably take about a
bushel of maypops to make a small glass of anything. I sent him home with a
freshly dug piece of the vine. 

Does anyone know a good recipe for using the fruit of this plant?

Passiflora incarnata grows very freely here, too freely. It generally
becomes a serious pest when not controlled.

My plants are loaded with flowers now, too, and they scent the yard and the

Passiflora lutea is not uncommon in some local woods. But it's so
inconspicuous: the flowers are tiny - about the size of a dime if that - and
the fruits are only about a quarter or third of an inch in diameter. Very
few people seem to know about this plant. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where asters are beginning to

My Virtual Maryland Garden

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