Red Passionflower

Scientific Name: Passiflora vitifolia
Passiflora in bloom

Family: Passifloracea

Range & Abundance: Widely dispersed throughout the tropics.

Coloration & Morphology: P. vitifolia has a vibrant red flower that produces ovoid yellow green berry approximately 2.5 inches long, which is densely packed with seeds. It is a vine with broad, tri-lobular leaves, and cylindrical stems. In its youth the stems are covered by rust colored hairs.

Habitat: Passiflora are commonly found in gaps or second growth forests. They typically grow on branches which are sprawled on top of low understory vegetation.

Ecology: P. vitifolia is highly adapted to pollination by hummingbirds. They will generally open their flowers in the morning, and begin to close them in the late afternoon. These hours are prime for hummingbird pollination. There is a collar of very stiff and short corona filaments directed inward and pressed tightly to the gynophore that prevent bees from entering and collecting pollen, however, this is no problem for the hummingbird's long slender beak.external image 3336735635_58cab05e75.jpg

Behavior: P. vitifolia only flowers for a 24 hour period. It begins to open early in the morning, between 5:50 and 7:30 am, and begin to wilt between 4:00

and 6:00 pm. Approximately 120 minutes are spent extending the stigmas past the anthers after the flower opens.external image 810b6_passiflora-vitifolia-02.jpg

Diet: Being a non-carnivorous plant, P. vitifolia obtains energy through photosynthesis. It grows in areas where there is high sunlight exposure through gaps in the canopy.

Other species interactions: (see Ecology) Passiflora are adapted to prefer pollination by hummingbirds and not by bees, as observed by their morphology.

Observations at La Selva: P. vitifolia was not seen during the stay at La Selva. The flower is the defining characteristic of the plant, and it was not flowering season, making the passionflower difficult to identify. The location where the passionflower had been seen in previous years was covered by plant debris.


1.) Snow, Allison A. "Pollination Intensity and Potential Seed Set in Passiflora Vitifolia" Ocealogica 55 (1982) 231-237.

2.) Apple, JJ. and Feener Jr., D.H. " Ant Visitatio of extrafloral nectaries of Passiflora: the effects of nectary attributes and ant behavior on patterns in facultative ant-plant mutualisms" Ocealogica 127 (2001) 409-416.

3.) Janzen, H. Daniel. "Reproductive Behavior in the Passifloraceae and Some of it Pollinators in Central America" Behaviour 32(1) (1968) 33-48.