Taxonomic name: Passiflora tarminiana (Coppens & Barney, 2001)
Synonyms: Passiflora mixta, Passiflora mollissima
Common names: banana passion flower (English), banana passion vine (English), banana passionfruit (English), banana poka (Hawaii), bananadilla, curuba (French), curuba ecuatoriana (Spanish-Colombia), curuba india (Spanish-Colombia), curuba quiteña (Spanish-Colombia), gulián (Spanish-Ecuador), tacso amarillo (Spanish-Ecuador), tumbo (Spanish-Peru, Bolivia)
Organism type: vine, climber
Passiflora tarminiana is an aggressively invasive tropical vine native to the Andes. It invades disturbed areas, smothers trees, reduces biodiversity and assists other invasive species, such as feral pigs, which feed on the fruit. Biological control programmes trialled in Hawaii have had very encouraging results, and New Zealand is now looking at introducing biocontrol agents. Passiflora tarminiana is a newly-described species, so older references to Passiflora mollissima (now Passiflora tripartita var. mollissima (Kunth) Holm Nielsen & Jørgensen)) may in fact be referring to Passiflora tarminiana.
A climbing liana vine possessing trilobed, serrated leaves with soft, downy undersides, always hairless on top; minute subreniform, aristate, deciduous stipules; flower pendent; sepals and petals light pink to bright pink; floral tube light green; bracts ovate; fruit fusiform, growing larger at high elevations, to 150 g; pericarp soft and yellow to yellow-orange; pulp orange; numerous black seeds (Fruits from America, 2002).
P. tarminiana is a newly described species. It was formerly included with the species P. mollissima, and is still described under this name in many resources. The two species have a number of differing characteristics. P. tarminiana has flowers in which the petals and sepals open flat, or are reflexed back in some cases, and the sepals are close to the end of the floral tube. The nectary chamber is conspicuously wider than the floral tube. P. tripartita var. mollissima never opens its petals and sepals to more than a bell shape, and the sepals are short in relation to the length of the floral tube (Irvine, 2003). Its bracts form a narrow tube. Its stipules are much larger, embracing the stem, and permanent.P. tarminiana is highly tolerant or resistant to the anthracnose affecting fruits and leaves of P. tripartita var. mollissima and it regenerates more easily from the base. It seems more susceptible to attacks of Heliconiid butterfly larvae in the juvenile stage.
Passiflora antioquiensis, Passiflora mixta, Passiflora pinnatistipula, Passiflora tripartita
agricultural areas, natural forests, planted forests, scrub/shrublands
Found in disturbed habitats. Tolerates both high and low light levels, although seedlings do not tolerate dense shade. Tolerant of occasional frosts. Naturally occurs in the Andes, between 2000 and 3600 m a.s.l. Grows in areas with mean annual rainfall between 800 and 1300mm and a mean annual temperature of 11.4 to 15.0°C. Once reaching canopy height the vines spread laterally. (Binggeli, 1997)
In its region of origin, P. tarminiana only exists under cultivation as a fruit crop, with a few individuals escaped from cultivation, but never forming significant wild populations.
P. tarminiana can rapidly reach and smother the forest canopy when the sub-canopy vegetation is disturbed either naturally, by hurricanes and other high winds, or by man or feral pigs (Smith, 1985 in PIER, 2003). P. tarminiana suppresses tree regeneration, topples shallow-rooted trees, kills standing trees through shading, and lowers species richness (Binggeli, 1997).
Often cultivated for fruit and as an ornamental plant, due to its attractive flowers (Binggeli, 1997). On Kauai, banana poka vines are woven into baskets (Starr, F., pers.comm., 2003).
On the State of Hawai‘i noxious weed list, where it has invaded huge areas of native forest and the fruit provides a food source for feral pigs (PIER, 2003; Smith, 1998). Also a problem species in New Zealand and South Africa (Binggeli, 1997).
P. tarminiana is often confused with P. mollissima. This is especially true in Hawai‘i, where the 'banana poka', often described as P. mollissima, is actually P. tarminiana. P. tripartita var. mollissima is absent from Hawai‘i (Irvine, 2003).
Native range: the Andes, from Venezuela to Peru (rare in Bolivia).
Known introduced range: Hawai‘i, New Zealand, La Réunion, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Philippines, Sri Lanka, East Africa.
Introduction pathways to new locations
Agriculture: Grown for its fruit in some areas (Binggeli, 1997).
For ornamental purposes: Often planted as an ornamental plant because of its attractive flowers (Binggeli, 1997).
Local dispersal methods
Consumption/excretion: Feral pigs are the primary local dispersal agent, with frugivorus and granivorous birds also playing a part (PIER, 2003).
Physical: Small plants can be hand pulled; older ones must be dug out (PIER, 2003).
Chemical: Cut vines and treat with herbicide, such as Tordon, Roundup or Escort (Binggeli, 1997; DOC, 2003).
Biological: Three biocontrol agents have been released in Hawai‘i. Cyanotricha necryia, a foliage-feeding moth, was released in 1988 but failed to establish.
Another moth species, Pyrausta perelegans, was released in 1991. It feeds on the buds, leaves, fruit, and shoot tips of P. tarminiana. It has established but is not common. A leaf spot fungus, Septoria passiflorae, which was released in 1996, is now widespread and causing large disease epidemics. There have been P. tarminiana biomass reductions of 80-95% over more than 2000 ha, giving indications that the leaf spot fungus has great potential. Other agents that are being investigated include Zapriotheca nr. nudiseta, a fly that feeds on flower buds, as well as Josia fluonia and J. ligata, two species of defoliating moths (Landcare Research 1999; 2001). In damp areas P. tarminiana may suffer from slug herbivory (Binggeli, 1997).
Feral pigs, when present, are the principal short-distance dispersal agents. Alien frugivorous and granivorous birds, as well as man, act as long distance dispersal agents (PIER, 2003).
Grows from seed to flowering in around one year. Mainly out-crosses, although self-pollinating may occur. Fruit contains numerous seeds (Binggeli, 1997). Hybridizes easily with other Passiflora species of subgenera Tacsonia and Manicata.
Adult plants can reach an age of 20 years (Binggeli, 1997).
Reviewed by: Dr. Geo Coppens Consultant, Tropical Fruit. CIRAD. France
Compiled by: IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Wednesday, 13 July 2005