Jennifer StackhouseThe last place you’d look for passionfruit

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.

Rps Goody and Maddison

Ros Goody and Maddison

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.

The Last Place you'd look for a Wallaby

The Last Place you’d look for a Wallaby

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.

Passiflora tarminiana

Passiflora tarminiana – Photo Forest and Kim Starr

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.

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Jennifer Stackhouse

About Jennifer Stackhouse

Recently Jennifer Stackhouse made the big move from Kurmond in NSW to a Federation house in the little village of Barrington tucked beneath Mt Roland in northwest Tasmania. With high rainfall, rich, red deep soil and a mild climate she reckons she's won the gardening lottery. She's taken on an acre garden that's been lovingly planted and tended for the past 28 years by a pair of keen gardeners so she is discovering a garden full of horticultural treasures. Jennifer is the author of several gardening books including 'Garden', which won a Book Laurel for 2013, as well as ‘The Organic Guide to Edible Gardens’, ‘Planting Techniques’ and ‘My Gardening Year’, which she wrote with her mother Shirley. She was editor of ABC 'Gardening Australia' magazine and now edits the trade journal 'Greenworld' magazine and writes regularly for the Saturday magazine in 'The Mercury'. She is often heard on radio and at garden shows answering garden queries.

3 thoughts on “The last place you’d look for passionfruit

  1. There are feral red wallabies in the Isle of Man, a large island in the Irish Sea. These are descendants of escapees from the Wildlife Park prior to WWII.

  2. …and all these introductions are here and there and they are here to stay too.

    No point getting around all po faced about it, unless of course you secretly like being indignant and pouty. Not that the tenor of your article suggests that you are Jennifer…..

    Attempts around here to control all these uninvited migrants have proved to be expensive, murderous and pointless. Monsanto, however, are quite pleased about it.

  3. Such an interesting article about a subject I’d love to know more about; putting in a birthday request for the book!

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