Successfully Growing Fruitful Lilikoi in SeattleSeptember 18, 2009
Passionfruit is my passion and growing it has been my obsession this season. As other plants have rapidly flowered, put on fruit, ripened and hit my plate, our passionfruit vine has plodded slowly on its path to fruition.
Months ago, in July, I wrote a first article singing my praises of this fruit, choking back my impatience with the fruit ripening slowly, and sharing the beauty of this plant’s flowers and early fruit formation. In it I wondered if the fruit would actually produce the nectar I so crave. Yesterday, I found my answer.
Rolling on the floor of the greenhouse, abscised from the vine, was a single purple orb the size of a small hen egg. Fortunately, this fruit has a naturally hard, waxy outer shell that protects it when it falls, ripe, from the vine. It must fall from the vine, not be cut, to ensure ripeness. Still, looking at it on the floor of the greenhouse, I couldn’t be sure if it really contained anything worth eating. I’ve been fooled in the past by other, ornamental passifloras, which form empty, fruitless orbs after flowering.
Then, I cut it open. Immediately, the kitchen was filled with the unmistakable fragrance of passionfruit. The orange-yellow seedy fruit dripped from the knife, and I could barely contain my joy at this special triumph — unique, beautiful lilikoi from my own backyard.
Finally, Bob and I each claimed a half of the fruit, toasted our success with the fruits themselves and began to slurp and crunch the sour-sweet, juicy perfumed fruit. Closing my eyes, I was transported briefly to Maui where I first indulged in this wonder. Each tiny taste was a treat beyond compare, and fortunately several more fruit continue to ripen on the vine for more special treats in the weeks ahead. Despite overwhelming success with many other fruits and veggies this year, these tiny purple treats make me happiest of all.
I look forward to enjoying the next lilikoi that falls. I have plans to crunch and slurp it up as I stand beside the half open greenhouse Dutch door, inhaling the burnt-sugar fragrance of our yellowing Katsura. What a way to welcome in autumn, just days away, and wave good-bye to the fruitful brilliance of an amazing summer.
Will the vine survive the winter as promised? That remains to be seen, so stay tuned next spring to find out. Given my love, nay obsession, with this bit of deliciousness, I’ll be working hard to see it through come sleet, snow or freezing rain.
Want more Lilikoi? Read Part I here.