Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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Synonym: Passiflora pallida
A vine mainly of hammocks and shell middens throughout many of the coastal counties of the Florida peninsula, also rockland pinelands of south Florida plus hammocks and pinelands of Lake and Polk Counties. The range includes the West Indies and extends from Cameron County (Brownsville), Texas through Mexico, Central and South America to Paraguay. Corkystem passionflower is an invasive plant of Hawaii and other Pacific Islands.
A small perennial vine with highly variable leaves in both size and shape. The leaves are alternate, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, and may be linear, lanceolate, or trilobed, any or all shapes appearing on the same vine at various times. Passiflora suberosa has two conspicuous red glands on the petiole and tendrils opposite the leaves that are used for climbing. The greenish white flowers are only about 2 cm (~ 3/4") wide with the ovary borne on a gynophore. Petals are lacking, five petal-like sepals are often nearly white. Corkystems in Florida typically have a purple inner coronal fringe and a yellow outer fringe, but the flowers on this species can also be quite variable. The fruit is a dark purple nearly round berry about 1 cm (~ 3/8") in diameter.
The variable leaves are believed by many lepidopterists to be a defense mechanism against caterpillar attack by making itself unrecognizable to predators, especially during early stages of the plant's life cycle. Corkystem passionflower is the larval host plant for the longwing butterflies: gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), julia (Dryas iulia) and zebra longwing (Heliconius charitonius).