Purple passionflower

Purple passionflower

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars have a voracious appetite for purple passionflower vine Passiflora incarnata!  This native vine is a host for the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly Agraulis vanilla larvae, is easy to grow, and readily available in garden centers.

Like any other vine, it grows quickly and may spread across your garden, so keep this in mind when choosing a location.  It prefers full sun, is drought tolerant, adapts to many soil types, and should be given support for twining tendrils.  Purple passionflower has intricate purple flowers that are followed by the fruit called a maypop, which is another common name for this vine.

Gulf fritillary butterflies are primarily orange with some black and white markings.  They prefer sunny areas and adults will feed on nectar from many different flowering plants.  However, they are more specific about where they will lay eggs because the diet of the caterpillar is more selective than adults.

If you have purple passionflower in your landscape, look for tiny yellow eggs and orange caterpillars with black spikes to see if you have a backyard Gulf fritillary nursery.  Plants may be totally defoliated by the hungry caterpillars, but healthy plants can tolerate the damage and should flush back out without difficulty.


Julie McConnell