|Common name:||Sweet Calabash/Sweet Cup/Calabasi|
|Botanical name:||Passiflora Maliformis|
|Origin||Cuba, Puerto Rico & Caribbean Islands|
|Season:||Throughout the Year|
|Damage temp:||30 F|
Sweet Cup - Sweet Calabash - Calabasi in a 3 Gallon Container. Sweet Calabash is a fast growing vine that climbs with tendrils. The flowers are large, showy, and extremely aromatic. It is a passion fruit relative that produces beautiful flowers and a unique hard shelled fruit that can be eaten fresh, with sugar, or used for juice. The fast growing vine is capable of climbing to 30 ft or more in a single year, and it flowers profusely even at a small size. They are extremely prolific producers, and one of the most ornamental of all passion vines. When the fruit is mature it will drop, and then it can be harvested with ease. The thin rind is yellow to brownish when fully ripe, and varies from flexible and leathery to hard and brittle. The pulp is pale orange to yellow, juicy, sweet to sub-acid and highly aromatic. They ripen year round.
Of minor status among the cultivated species of Passiflora, the sweet calabash, P. maliformis L., has been called water lemon (Bermuda); ceibey cimarron (Cuba), callebassie (Haiti), calabacito de Indio (Dominican Republic); sweet cup, conch apple, conch nut (Jamaica); parcha cimarrona (Puerto Rico); Pomme calabas, liane a agouti (Guadeloupe); pomme-liane de la Guadeloupe (Martinique); culupa, granadilla, curuba or kuruba (Colombia); granadilla de hueso or granadilla de mono (Ecuador); guerito (Cuba).
The vine is woody but slender, climbing to 33 ft (10 m) or more by means of tendrils in the leaf axils, and draping trees, walls and small buildings. The evergreen leaves are ovate-cordate, or ovate-oblong, with a short, recurved point at the apex; fairly thin, light-green; 2 3/8 to 6 in (6-15 cm) long, with 2 round, flat glands at about the middle of the petiole. The peduncle bears 3 thin, ovate, pointed bracts, to 2 in (5 cm) long which enclose the unopened bud and form an ivory-hued background for the opened flower, which is fragrant, 2 to 2 3/8 in (5-6 cm) wide, with keeled, green, maroon-dotted sepals and 5 small petals, greenish-white, dotted with red or purple. The corona is 3-ranked and variegated white, purple and blue.
Origin and Distribution
This species is native and common in the wild in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and from Saba to Barbados and Trinidad; also Venezuela, Colombia and northern Ecuador. It is cultivated in Jamaica, Brazil and Ecuador for its fruits, and in Hawaii as an ornamental in private gardens and in experimental stations for use in breeding work. The United States Department of Agriculture received seeds from Trinidad in 1909 (P.I. No. 26269); seeds of 4 varieties from Colombia in September 1914 (P.I. Nos. 39223-226); and more seeds from Colombia in November 1914
The vine grows and fruits at cool altitudes–up to 5,500 ft (1,700 m)–in South America; in Jamaica, between 500 and 1,200 ft (152-366 m). Lefroy saw it in Bermuda in 1871 but the climate apparently did not favor survival.
The fruit, whether leathery or hard-shelled, is difficult to open but the seedy pulp is much enjoyed locally. In Jamaica, it is scooped from the shell and served with wine and sugar. The strained juice is excellent for making cold drinks.
Snuff boxes have been made of the shell of the hard type.