My neighbour, artist Ros Goody, has the best crop of passionfruit ever this year, which is odd as her vine, possibly self-sown, grows under and around a jacaranda. It is very shaded and never watered. It is only fertilised if its roots have roamed into a near by garden bed, although there is plenty of mulch around and the soil is good.
Nevertheless the ground beneath the jacaranda (and the skimpy entwining passionfruit vine) has been littered for weeks with plump black-skinned fruit. They are sweet and pulpy.
They are growing just where a passionfruit shouldn’t grow.
By comparison most other people (me included), are bemoaning their lack of fruit through summer. But after the rain that’s drenched the east coast I am sure we’ll see plenty of fruit maturing on vines well into autumn.
Seeing Ros’s vine littering the ground with passionfruit in the last place you’d look for a passionfruit brought to mind an excellent book I’ve just read by Glen Chilton titled The Last Place You’d Look for a Wallaby, which is about his quest for introduced species in odd spots around the globe.
As he tracks down odd and far flung species of both plants and animals Glen shares all sorts of interesting information including that Australia and Hawaii vie for what he calls, tongue in cheek, “bragging rights” about whose landscape has been more thoroughly ravaged by introduced species.
“Australia has rabbits, cane toads, camels, rabbits, fire ants, foxes, rabbits, pigeons, and more rabbits,” says Glen, “but virtually everything in Hawaii has been brought from somewhere else.”
What Glen was tracking in Hawaii was banana poka, Passiflora tarminiana, an invasive introduced weed. It closely resembles our commonly grown banana passionfruit, Passiflora mollissima (actually Passiflora tripartita var. mollissima), one of the more weedy forms of passionfruit growing in Australia.
I also discovered from Glen’s book that there were no mosquitoes in Hawaii until the mid 19th century and that the American bullfrog has been introduced to countries around the world where there have been attempts to breed them for meat – they have massive thighs and prodigious breeding abilities. They almost, but don’t quite, put the cane toad in its place.
It’s a great read. I would especially recommend that travelling gardeners read the piece on the invasive rhododendrons, which seem to be taking over Ireland.
Oh, and if you are wondering where is the last place you’d look for a wallaby, the answer is in Scotland on a remote island in Loch Lomond.