T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Passiflora apetala (Bat-wing passion flower)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Tracheophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Passifloraceae
Genus: Passiflora
Species: P. apetala
Scientific name: Passiflora apetala
Common name: Bat-wing passion flower, Passionflower, Passion vine

Passiflora apetala is a shade tolerant, invasive vine in the genus of passion flowers Passiflora. It is native to Costa Rica, Panamá, Honduras and Mexico Southeast. In New Zealand, it is found naturalised in the Northland, Auckland and Waikato regions. It has the ability to smother, shade and strangle other plants and is seen as an emerging threat to New Zealand’s environment. The vine was introduced as an ornamental variety in the mid-1990s and has been dispersed in New Zealand through the activities of sub-tropical plant collectors and birds which find the berries very attractive to eat and hence seeds are widely dispersed in their droppings. Passiflora apetala has been found regenerating in native and exotic forests, scrub, home gardens and amongst hedges and along fence lines (where birds perch).
Passiflora apetala has now been banned in New Zealand after it was listed as invasive species. It is now illegal under the Biosecurity Act to propagate, distribute or sell this plant - either casually or through nurseries - but existing plants are still allowed on private properties.

Passiflora apetala seedling leaves have two large lobes (that resemble a bat wing) and some older leaves have pale green stripes along the midribs.
It has small yellow-green, coloured flowers that are 12-20mm diameter and they produce small purplish-black berries roughly the size of a small grape (7-15mm diameter).
Flowers and fruit can be found all year round in New Zealand with the minimum temperature for growing at about 5 ° C.
A mature vine (2-3 years old) can produce more than 3000 fruit with an average of 15 seeds per fruit. The fruit is small black berries about the size of a small grape (7-15mm diameter). New plants grow rapidly from seed and can flower in 24 weeks with fruit maturing after 32 weeks.
The seeds remain viable for more than 10 years.



Seedlings with the bat-shaped leaves. Photo courtesy Auckland Weedspotters Network, Auckland Council.


Mature leaves

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0