GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OR ORIGIN:
MINIMUM TEMPERATURE: 12 °C
IDEAL MINIMUM TEMPERATURE: 15 °C
ETYMOLOGY: Latin, gracilis, thin, slender.
Latin, gracilis, thin, slender.
NOTES: Chromosomes: n=6, 2n=12 (Beal 1971). 2n=18 (La Cour 1952). 2n=20 (Bodwen 1945). Annual species, to be resown in spring.
Chromosomes: n=6, 2n=12 (Beal 1971). 2n=18 (La Cour 1952). 2n=20 (Bodwen 1945).
Annual species, to be resown in spring.
This passionflower has a light bearing, not exceeding 2 metres in length. Its main feature is that of being an annual. It germinates from seed in the spring, grows rapidly and goes into flower in late summer. In autumn, its stems are decorated with small red fruits the size of an olive. Then, in a matter of days, it turns yellow and dies, thus quickly concluding its life cycle. To get it back the following year, one needs to keep the small black seeds that are enclosed in the fruit.
P. gracilis has trilobate leaves, with small glands around the entire perimeter; they can reach 7 cm in length and 9-10 cm in width. They are therefore relatively large, thus contrasting with the size of the very small flowers, usually not exceeding 2 cm in diameter. The petiole bears two symmetrical glands.
The flowers are not showy nor do they impart any particular grace or elegance to the plant when flowering. Looking at them closely, however, you can appreciate their perfection albeit all in miniaturised form. They have no petals, giving them the appearance of small white five-pointed stars with a tiny green hook at the end of each sepal. The corona, with a diameter about half that of the corolla, comprises two series of white filaments marked, as contrast, with two small dark brown bands.
For its simplicity and ease of care, P. gracilis deserves to be cultivated and will repay one in the autumn with its production of a beautiful bright red fruit, its most important aesthetic feature.
It is advisable to sow it, in a greenhouse or in the home, in early spring in small pots filled with suitable compost. It is necessary to wait for the seedlings to have grown and for the night temperatures to settle above 10°C before transplanting them outdoors. The ideal location is near a light fence in full sun. It adapts to any soil and has good resistance to drought and the most common diseases.
P. gracilis is found naturally in Florida, Brazil, Costa
Rica and numerous other South American countries.