Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Sp. pl. 2: 958 (1753).
2n = 12, 24, 36
Corky passionflower, corkystem passionflower, devil’s pumpkin, indigo berry, wild passionfruit (En). Grenadille, passiflore (Fr). Maracujá (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Passiflora suberosa originates from tropical America and is a locally established weed in many tropical countries. In Africa it occurs in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, South Africa, and also in the Indian Ocean islands.
In Mauritius a leaf decoction is applied externally to treat urticaria and itch. A root decoction is taken to induce menstruation and to treat hysteria. On Rodrigues a decoction of the plant mixed with either a pinch of salt or with a decoction of young leaves of Momordica charantia L. is taken to treat indigestion.
The aerial parts of Passiflora suberosa contain simple indole alkaloids, tannins, coumarines, sterols, terpenes and the cyanogenic glycosides passisuberosin and epipassisuberosin. The fruits contain several anthocyanins.
Perennial herbaceous climber, glabrous or hairy; stem up to 6 m long, angular, corky when older, purplish. Leaves alternate, usually deeply 3-lobed; stipules linear, 5–8 mm long; petiole 1–2.5 cm long, with 2 opposed wart-like glands at the middle; blade circular to ovate or oblong in outline, 4–10 cm × 4–14 cm, the central lobe largest, base rounded or cordate, apex acute. Flowers in leaf axils, 1–2 together with a simple tendril 3–12 cm long, bisexual, regular, 5-merous, 1–2 cm in diameter, pale greenish yellow; pedicel 1–2 cm long, jointed about half way; hypanthium saucer-shaped, 3–5 mm wide; sepals ovate to lanceolate, 5–10 mm long, obtuse; petals absent; corona threads in 2 series, 2–6 mm long, yellow with purple base; disk annular, androgynophore 2–4 mm long; stamens free, filaments 2–3 mm long, anthers 1–2 mm long; ovary superior, globose to ellipsoid, 1–2 mm in diameter, glabrous, 1-celled, styles 3, 2–3 mm long. Fruit an almost globose berry 1–1.5 cm in diameter, glabrous, purple-black, many-seeded. Seeds ovoid, 3–4 mm long, wrinkled.
Passiflora comprises about 400 species, most of them in tropical and subtropical America, but about 20 in Asia and Australia. Passiflora is not indigenous in Africa, but several species have been introduced, mostly for their edible fruits. Passiflora suberosa is a variable species and may include several cryptic species; it needs revision.
Passiflora suberosa is naturalized in grassland, shrub land, open dry forest, roadsides and disturbed shady localities, from sea-level up to 2500 m altitude. It is an aggressive weed, which may smother the natural vegetation. The seeds are dispersed by fruit-eating birds.
Genetic resources and breeding
Passiflora suberosa is considered an invasive weed e.g. in South Africa where it is listed as harmful, and as such it is subject to eradication practices and not protection measures.
Passiflora suberosa is only locally used for medicinal purposes, and will remain of little importance unless pharmacological research shows other possibilities. It is subject to research because of its resistance against plant viruses and fungi that attack Passiflora edulis Sims.
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• Fischer, I.H., Lourenço, S.A., Martins, M.C., Kimati, H. & Amorim, L., 2005. Selection of resistant plants and fungicides for the control of passion fruit stem rot caused by Phytophthora nicotianae. Summa Phytopathologica 31(2): 165–172.
• Gurib-Fakim, A., Guého, J., Sewraj, M.D. & Dulloo, E., 1994. Plantes médicinales de l’île Rodrigues. Editions de l’Océan Indien, Rose-Hill, Mauritius. 580 pp.
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Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2007. Passiflora suberosa L. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
obtained from W.D. Hawthorne
obtained from W.D. Hawthorne
obtained from W.D. Hawthorne
obtained from S. Hurst