Passiflora incarnata | The Italian Collection of Maurizio Vecchia

Passiflora incarnata , information, classification, temperatures. etymology of Passiflora incarnata . Discover the Italian Passiflora Collection by Maurizio Vecchia.

Passiflora incarnata  | The Italian Collection of Maurizio Vecchia

Systematics (J. Macdougal et al., 2004)

SUBGENUS: passiflora
SUPERSECTION: passiflora
SERIES: passiflora


USA: from Virginia to Missouri, South Florida and Texas. Also Bermuda. 




P. edulis var. kerii Mast., P. kerii Spreng


From the flesh color of the flowers, (Lat. incarnatus)


Chromosomes: n=9, 2n=18 (Heitz 1926, Bowden 1945, Storey 1950). 2n=36 (Lloyd 1963).



Passiflora incarnata is an interesting alternative to the common Passiflora caerulea, the only species of this crowded and imaginative genus that we normally cultivate.

Endowed with exceptional hardiness, it has an elegant and unusual flowering, is very easy to grow and has an almost explosive vivacity in growth and posture. It is one of the most important and well-known passifloras in the United States, while it has not yet been well introduced to Italy, 'relegated' as it is to companies that grow medicinal plants for its sedative active ingredients which are useful for treating anxiety, insomnia and nervousness.

Its numerous flowers, large and pink in colour, are characterised by an eye-catching curled corona that gives it an extraordinary beauty.

It is also fragrant, its fruits are edible, and the foliage is deep green, dense and impenetrable.

I recommend this rare and beautiful climber to all those who have a fence to cover or any corner that you want flowered from May to October.

P. incarnata is perhaps the species which, on the American continent, lives furthest north, together with P. lutea, since it belongs to the flora of the United States. For this reason, it is very hardy.

Its posture is climbing, typical of the genus Passiflora. It behaves like a herbaceous plant and is thus defined by botanists, since it loses all the aerial part in winter.

The root system remains dormant until spring, when it emits new suckers everywhere, sometimes becoming intrusive.

The flowers, about 9 cm in diameter, have the typical structure of passifloras: the crown of filaments that enriches the corolla. The dominant colours are lilac, pink, white and intense mauve. The name (specific epithet) of incarnata [incarnate] refers, in fact, to these delicate shades.

The large trilobate leaves are deep green, shiny and bright. Their petiole bears pairs of glands with a mysterious function, secreting a sugary liquid that is useful, it seems, for attracting ants: a device perhaps to have someone protect them from parasites.

The growth is rapid and buds that will open in continuous succession grow at each node of the stem.

P. incarnata is a very variable species, as there are many forms each different from the other.

There is also a very elegant white form: P. incarnata f. alba. The corolla and the crown are of a very pure white. A variety with a larger white flower has also been selected recently: P. incarnata 'Supernova'.

The ovoid fruits, about 4-5 cm long, are pleasantly scented, sweet and sour at the same time.

It is simple and safe to obtain P. incarnata from seed, which I recommend, as the plant is not easy to find at nurseries. Even from sowing it grows very quickly and does not wait long to go into flowering. If you know someone who already has one, you can prepare cuttings or, better, extract suckers with portions of roots from the ground. It does not require special care, other than a certain attention to give direction to the shoots if they invade inappropriate spaces.

It thrives best in poor, stony, especially well-drained soil. It has fleshy roots that run horizontally and at a low depth. Stagnant water, especially in winter, should be avoided. Pruning is not necessary, because in the cold months the aerial part dries up and can be cleaned down to ground level. It is a disease-free plant and, unlike other Passiflora species, is resistant to nematodes. It can therefore be defined as very easy to cultivate.