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Turquoise Puya

Passiflora membranacea

This is a close look at the spectacular Passiflora membranacea.  Looking like a party decoration, this unusual vine dazzles the eye with greenish-yellow blossoms topped with plum-colored bracts.  Even without blooms it is a striking plant, with its unusual round leaves that are purplish on the back.  It is a cool-climate species, so it is not suitable for everyone.  The plant is very rare in cultivation, and rarely seen for sale.

Passiflora membranacea

Passiflora membranacea is an evergreen vine that grows to 40 feet long here in San Francisco.  It is very vigorous and can potentially smother nearby trees, so be careful where you grow it.  The roundish, 4 inch leaves occasionally have small lobes, but they are often perfectly circular, which is highly unusual for Passifloras.  The plant looks fabulous when grown over an arbor, where the showy flowers can dangle down like jewelry by their long stems.  The 3 inch long, chartreuse blossoms appear in summer and fall.  The reddish-purple bracts remain after the flowers drop, which is followed by edible fruit.

Passiflora membranacea

Passiflora membranacea comes from the mountains of Central America and Mexico, where temperatures are mild all year and nights are cool.  I don't have much information on its climate tolerances, but it is probably heat-sensitive and may not flower in temperatures above about 85 degrees F (30 degrees C), particularly if nights are warm.  It might not thrive in consistently hot temperatures.  I don't know its frost tolerance, but it probably can only handle a few degrees of frost.  Try to protect it from all frost.  It may be grown indoors in a pot across a large trellis or wires, pruning it whenever necessary.  It likes full sun, although some afternoon shade may be needed in warmer conditions.

Passiflora membranacea

 

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Turquoise Puya

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