Tropical Fruit Information
Vines and Brambles
Fruiting Vines & Brambles
++ Indicates that this is a variety or a species that is found in our arboretum, but not often stocked in our nursery. Inquire about availability. If we do not have it in stock, we can put you on our "waitlist" and call you when we have it available.
'Brazos' was developed by Texas A&M University to be grown in long narrow patches and kept in bounds with a lawn mower. It does not need to be trellised. The berries are large and may need protection from birds. This should be fairly easy due to its low growth habit here in Florida. 'Brazos' perform better on acid soils and respond well to fertilizer and wood chip mulch. Partial shade may also be beneficial. 'Brazos' appears nematode resistant, and is definitely cold hardy.
see Mysore Raspberry
see Passionfruit, Giant Granadilla
see Muscadine Grape
This vine is the only edible fruit-producing member of the philodendron family. The fruit looks something like a cross between an ear of corn and a pine cone and takes up to 18 months to ripen on the plant. The fruit can be picked after about a year and will start to ripen several days later. As the fruit ripens from the bottom up, segments of the inedible outer peel fall off. The inner segments can then be eaten and are similar to a combination of pineapple and banana. The black flecks in the fruit are floral remnants and can be eaten. The fruit should not be eaten before it is ripe since it contains oxalate crystals that irritate the mouth and throat. Eat in moderation when ripe. Ideal growing conditions for Monstera include moderate shade and moist soil. Too much shade inhibits fruit production. Conversely, full sun can cause the foliage to yellow. The plant can trail along the ground and climb trees. When exposed to frost, the foliage dies and freezing temperatures can kill the plant. One method of cold protection is growing them under trees, as one local homeowner has a productive monstera growing up an oak tree.
FCFS available. Muscadine grapes are native to the South and are resistant to many of the pests of regular grapes. They are easy to grow, cold tolerant, and require a trellis. The vines are deciduous, begin leafing out in March, and bear Aug-Sept in the south. Muscadines are vigorous and require yearly pruning. Each winter, usually in January, cut new growth back to 3-4 inch long spurs. This seemingly radical pruning is necessary for a bountiful crop and manageable vine. Vine will bear the second year after planting. Muscadines often suffer magnesium deficiency, which is easily remedied with Epsom salts. Vines do well in almost any well-drained soil. The grapes have a tough skin and are excellent for eating out-of-hand, making juice, or producing preserves.
++'Alachua' yields small ½ inch deep purple grapes with 18% sugar content. The flavor is very good. The vine is self-fertile and yields early-mid season.
++'Fry' produces 1¼ in. bronze grapes with 21% sugar content. An old-standby cultivar, Fry yields good crops of sweet, excellently flavored grapes. Bears early-late season. Requires cross-pollination from a self-fertile variety.
'Late Fry' is a bronze self-fertile variety, with an 18-20% sugar content. It produces a late crop of very large clusters of good quality fruit in high yields. It is very vigorous.
'Nesbit' Black fruit, 18% sugar, self-fertile flowers. Produces large clusters of fruit, very productive, disease resistant, dry scar, ripens over a long period. Mid to late season production.
++'Noble' produces small ¼-½ in. black grapes with 16% sugar content. The flowers are self-fertile. Noble grapes are used primarily for making juice and wine. Bears early-mid season.
++'Southland' is a small black grape, about ½ inch, with 17% sugar content. The flavor is excellent, but the skin is very tough. Ison's Nursery and Vineyard in Georgia rank this the number one variety for jelly, jam, or preserves. The vines are self-fertile.
++'Summit' is a rose-colored grape with excellent flavor and 20% sugar content. These 1 in. grapes are sweet with a delightfully crisp flesh, even when ripe. Vines produce only female flowers, requiring a pollenizer.
'Supreme' is a black variety with a 23% sugar content. This is one of the largest muscadines developed at this time (2002). It is a very heavy producer, ripening mid-season. The skin is edible on the fruit. This variety is very vigorous and disease resistant, producing large clusters of fruit with a dry scar. Requires cross-pollination from a self-fertile variety.
'Tara' Bronze fruit, 17% sugar, self-fertile flowers, . Fruits are of good size, vines are very vigorous, high yielding, dry scar and cold hardy. Fruit ripens early to mid-season.
'Triumph' produces 1 in. bronze grapes with 18% sugar content. The skin is somewhat tough, but the flesh has good flavor. The vine is self-fertile. Triumph is a good table grape and is grown at a local U-pick farm not far from ECHO. Bears early to midseason.
The Mysore raspberry is from India. If it is provided with some irrigation and mulched, this raspberry grows vigorously and produces fall through spring. Some shade is beneficial. Flavor is variable and is sweet only part of the year.
FCFS available. Named by early Spanish missionaries to South America who saw in these tropical vines the story of the crucifixion, or "passion", of Christ, this unusual plant promises to be no less intriguing today. For Florida gardeners, not only can this vine produce exquisite flowers in a range of vibrant colors, several varieties also bear a delicious, exotic-tasting, aromatic fruit. There are two distinct forms of edible passionfruit that we typically carry in our nursery, the purple fruiting type and the yellow fruiting type, as well as various ornamental varieties. All are vigorous climbers and require a sturdy trellis or wire fence. We recommend planting young vines in the spring soon after danger of frost is past. Plant the vines 10-15 ft. apart in rows and allow the vines to intertwine to encourage cross-pollination. Within two years of planting, the vines are capable of yielding large quantities of fruit. The fruit is either picked from the vine or allowed to fall and gathered from the ground. The fruit is firm and has a rather tough, inedible rind. Inside is a cavity filled with orange-colored sacs of juicy pulp containing many small dark seeds. The pulp and seeds are easily removed from the fruit with a spoon. It is difficult, however, to separate the seeds from the pulp and both seeds and pulp are generally eaten together. Otherwise, the juice sacs may be pushed through a sieve or squeezed in cheesecloth to extract the juice alone. The highly concentrated juice when sweetened and diluted with water makes a delightfully refreshing drink. After a vine reaches two years old, a post harvest pruning should be done once a year to encourage new growth and increase fruit production. The vine has a productive life usually of 3-5 years. Root problems and vine decline are common where soil drainage is poor. Flooding kills the vine. We recommend planting the vines on mounds in low-lying and flood prone areas.
'Blue' - P. caerulea Extremely fast growing, hardy passionflower producing egg shaped orange fruits with deep red, edible pulp, although not as tasty as the purple passion fruit. Flowers are ornate, multi-colored, with a minty scent much like the fruit of the pineapple guava.
'Crimson (red)' - P. vitifolia Small green-yellow passion fruit with edible pulp. The flowers are a beautiful deep red. Leaves resemble grape leaves and the vine is moderately hardy and can be killed back by freezing temperatures. Grown as an ornamental.
'Incense' - P. incarnata x cincinnata This variety has large, showy purple scented flowers. This variety is a hybrid between two hardy passion flower species (Passiflora incarnata and P. cinnicata), and as a result, is very hardy itself, surviving temperatures below 0F. Vines will die back upon temperatures below 32F but will regrow from roots when the weather warms up again. While the vines are self-fertile and the fruits are edible, it is most commonly grown as an ornamental.
'Lady Margeret' - P. vitifolia x caerulea Large flowers of a unique Intensive red-magenta with a contrasting white center. Vigorous & free flowering this plant is easy to grow. Grown as an ornamental.
'Lavender Lady' - Passiflora amethystine Fragrant, lavender colored blossoms. Strictly for ormamental plantings, this non-edible passionflower vine id highly attractive to butterflies and bees. May die backwith temperatures below 35˚F but will regrow in the spring.
The dark-purple egg-shaped fruits of this vine grow to 2" in length and weigh 1-1.5oz. The pulp of the purple fruits has a delightful aroma and flavor with a higher proportion of juice, but milder flavor than that of the yellow varieties. They are nearly sweet enough to eat out-of-hand. The flowers of the 'Purple Possum' variety we carry at ECHO are self-fertile, so only one vine is necessary to get fruit set. In Florida, this vine flowers during the spring and again in late summer (mid-August to late October). The best insect pollinator of passion vines in Florida is the carpenter bee, but native populations may not be large enough to ensure adequate pollination. You can encourage the presence of carpenter bees by placing hollow logs near the vines. Honey bees are less effective pollinators because they are too small and prefer to work other flowers when passion fruit is blooming. Hand pollination, therefore, will likely increase your yields. To hand-pollinate, simply dust each pistil with pollen from stamens of another flower. The purple passion fruit is better suited to cooler, subtropical conditions than either of the more tropical yellow passionfruit or giant granadilla vines, but even it is not likely to survive a severe freeze. The purple varieties tend to be more susceptible to root nematodes and fungal root infections. However, we have had success with the purple variety by planting them on mounds to promote good drainage.
Passiflora edulis f. flavicarpa
The yellow fruits of this vine have a higher acid content and are best for cooking or flavoring drinks. The fruits are similar in shape but larger than the purple passion fruits. The yellow passion fruit vine blooms periodically year round. These vines are usually self-sterile, so to get fruit set, you need to plant two genetically different vines. While yellow passion fruit vines may be cross-pollinated by carpenter bees, it is highly recommended that you cross-pollinate by hand if you want a significant amount of fruit. Simply dust the flowers with pollen from a flower of a genetically different but compatible vine. Yellow passionfruit vines are more resistant to root nematodes and fungal diseases and less cold hardy than the purple types. The yellow types are also reported to tolerate alkaline soils, common to southwest Florida, if amended with the proper micronutrients.
Naturalized throughout the humid tropics, the giant granadilla is well-noted for being the largest of the passionfruits. The fruit of this thick, square-stemmed vine may grow to 12" in length, 6" in width, and weigh up to 6 pounds. The oblong fruit, when ripe, has a thin, delicate skin, light green to yellow in color, and resembles a small melon. Under the skin is a thick, pale, mildly-flavored rind that can be eaten cooked or raw. The juice from the pulp has a more mild flavor than that of the other passion fruits. The large flowers of the granadilla are one of the prettiest of all the passion flowers. The vine flowers in the spring in Florida; fruits mature in the summer. In southern Florida, the vine may continue to flower all summer long, but the fruit will be misshapen; when cooler weather returns, the vines will resume setting "normal" fruit. You may need to hand-pollinate in the late morning, within 4 to 6 hours of the flower's opening in the absence of insect pollinators. A strong trellis is needed to support this vigorous vine's wandering growth habit and heavy fruits. The granadilla's truly tropical nature limits its success in southern Florida.
Vanilla planifolia, syn. V. fragrans
Vanilla produces greenish-yellow flowers during some summers at ECHO. One summer, the vine produced about a dozen pods. They usually require hand-pollination to set pods. Ask for more information about hand-pollination, if you need it. Vanilla flavoring is extracted from fully grown but not fully ripe pods, which are fermented, cured and soaked in alcohol. The plant grows into a long vine, grows better in partial shade, and is cold sensitive.