Located around our campus there grows two different varieties of passionflower or passion vine, yellow (passiflora lutea) and purple (Passiflora incarnata). The yellow variety is a small, more delicate plant than the purple variety. Although the flower is structurally similar it is smaller and less ornate. The leaves are three lobed as in the purple passionflower vine but with little or no sinus separating the lobes.
The flowers on the purple variety are about three inches across whereas the yellow passionflower is about an inch across. Also note the deep sinuses in the leaves of the purple passionflower and lack of same in the yellow variety.
Some yellow passionflower leaves show variegation.
As climbing vines do, passionflower grasps on to other nearby plants with tendrils to facilitate their climb to the top.
Both varieties of passionflower are host to two species of butterfly, the variegated fritillary and the gulf fritillary. Both species can be seen in our area although the variegated fritillary is more commonly observed.
There are several different fritillaries in our state. The one thing these fritillaries all have in common is a kind of checkered pattern on the upper surface of the wings. The variegated fritillary has more checkering than the gulf fritillary which, in fact, has very little in the way of any pattern on the upper surface of the wings. Nevertheless, the pattern on the butterflies, however extensive it may or may not be, is the reason for the name fritillary. Fritillary, in some form or another, means checkered. Dice-box and chessboard often enter into etymological searches made for fritillary and the naming of these butterflies.
A sample of the yellow passionflower is blooming directly across from the entrance path to the Lemur House, another on a wax myrtle on the left side of the entrance to the Dinosaur Trail.
There’s purple passionflower growing on the north shore of the wetlands. It’s attempting to climb a hazel alder that grows there.