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Passionfruits

An estimated 3,000 different fruits occur in the tropics, but apart from banana, pineapple, papaya, and mango, they seldom appear regularly on the world's tables. However, given the current enthusiasm for the passionfruit (Passiflora species), that group of fruits may soon have another addition.

Because of its strong, pleasing aroma and flavor, passionfruit juice is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in drinks. Future production could be sizable because the universal demand for fruit-based soft drinks is rising. (In the United States, for instance, fruit-based drinks are expected to be the next “colas” that will soon become a major part of the soft-drink industry.) Already, passionfruit cultivation is spreading, and a number of large corporations are investing in it heavily.1

So far, most commercial passionfruit projects are based on a single species: the purple or yellow common passionfruit2 (Passiflora edulis), which is native to Brazil and nearby tropical areas. However, at least 40 Passiflora species produce fruits, of which 11 are cultivated on at least a small scale.3 Several that occur in the Andes are highlighted in this chapter.4 Research to select strains with high yields and good fruit quality could transform these into significant commercial resources.

All these plants are vines that produce round or ellipsoid fruits about the size of goose eggs. They are usually propagated by seed and are grown on trellises or fences. Their horticultural requirements are like those of the common passionfruit. All require moderate moisture, but vary in their tolerance to cooler temperatures. Depending on the


1 One measure of the enthusiasm for the passionfruit is the “craze” sweeping Puerto Rico. Starting from nothing in 1976, Puerto Rico now produces more than 3,000 tons of passionfruit a year. Two dozen juices and drinks are being sold, and the island's annual sales are estimated at $10 million, and rising. Hawaiian Punch is one U.S. drink that has included passionfruit juice for decades.
2 This is known in Spanish as maracuja or granadilla. However, both names are applied, in different parts of the tropics, to several species of passionfruit.
3 Many Quito backyards, for example, contain one or two passionfruit plants hung on trellises for their shade and their fruit.
4 Other promising species found in lower altitude parts of the Andes include P. serrulata, P. laurifolia, and P. quadrangularis. These are basically tropical lowland species, and for this reason are not highlighted in this report.


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