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Turquoise Puya

Passiflora gilbertiana

This is a close look at the beautiful Passiflora gilbertiana, discovered fairly recently in Costa Rica.  From spring through autumn, it's covered with wonderful, golden-yellow blossoms that look like little sunshine rays!  It also has terrific, variegated leaves (seen here) that have purplish undersides.  This vine is rarely seen in cultivation, and seldom offered for sale.

Its large, wing-shaped leaves grow to about 6 inches long and have attractive "lightning bolt" variegation down each lobe, similar to my Passiflora boenderi, also from Costa Rica.  Between these stripes is a row of yellow dots that mimic butterfly eggs, to keep butterflies from laying eggs there.  The inch-wide blooms appear in large numbers all over the vine.  Sometimes the blooms have no fragrance, or they will have a light fragrance of mothballs, although some perceive it as a farm-like odor.  It doesn't seem to bother hummingbirds, which often visit the blooms.  After flowering, it makes small, round fruit that is purple.  I don't know if the fruit is edible (some Passiflora fruit is toxic).  The plant may be cross-bred with some other Passiflora species, particularly those in the subgenus Decaloba.

Passiflora gilbertiana

I don't have information on its temperature tolerances.  Based on where it is found (1300 to 2300 meter elevation) it should be able to handle some heat, but it might need cool nights if days regularly get over 85 degrees F (29C).  It grows fine here in cool San Francisco.  I don't know its frost tolerance since it doesn't freeze here.  It seems to prefer partly sunny conditions.  It might need some shading from strong afternoon sun.  Like most Passifloras, it likes fertile, well-draining soil that's kept evenly moist.  You may grow it in a 3-5 gallon pot onto a trellis.  In the right conditions, it's an easy and very attractive vine.

 

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Turquoise Puya

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