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Passiflora maliformis, commonly known as the Sweet Calabash or Conch Apple, is a species of flowering plant in the family Passifloraceae. This plant is renowned for its unique and attractive features. It typically has a climbing or trailing growth habit, supported by slender, woody vines that can reach significant lengths. The leaves of Passiflora maliformis are deeply three-lobed, with a glossy, dark green upper surface and a paler underside.
One of the most striking aspects of this plant is its flowers. The blossoms are large and showy, characterized by their intricate structure. They usually display a combination of white and purple hues with a prominent, fringed corona of purple and white radial filaments. These filaments surround the central structure of the flower, which consists of several stamens and a trio of styles atop a single ovary.
Following flowering, Passiflora maliformis produces fruit that is roughly the size of an apple, hence the name "Sweet Calabash" or "Conch Apple." These fruits have a hard, somewhat spherical shell that turns from green to yellow or brown as they ripen. Inside, the fruit contains a sweet, aromatic pulp that is often yellowish-orange in color and filled with small, black seeds. This pulp is edible and is used in various culinary applications, particularly in tropical regions where the plant is native.
The plant thrives in warm, tropical climates and requires well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. It is often grown for both its ornamental value and its fruit, and it can be a striking addition to gardens in suitable climates. Due to its climbing nature, it is commonly trained along fences, trellises, or other support structures.