Last updated 16/10/2017
Bush passionfruit, or passiflora foetida, is a relative of cultivated passionfruit and native to Central and South America. It was introduced into Australia around 1880 and has since become an invasive species, extremely common across the top end of Australia. It’s a creeping, scrambling vine, often found growing over and around other plants and trees, but can also be found as a ground cover. Sometimes thin and scraggly, sometimes dense and lush, depending on conditions. It can grow in arid conditions but prefers some water. It prefers plenty of sun so usually isn’t found in dense forests. The scientific name foetida is Latin for stinking, apparently because the plant emits a strong odour when damaged. I haven’t actually noticed any strong smells when foraging for the fruit.
Bush Passionfruit produce fruit at various times of the year. The fruit are initially green, turning yellow when ripe. The fruit are encased in a unique net which makes the species easy to identify. This feature, along with the fact that they are so common, makes them a good bush tucker for amateurs like me to go out and try. The fruit contain black seeds and a sweet tangy pulp, both of which are edible. The taste is similar to cultivated passionfruit, maybe slightly milder. The unripe green fruit are supposedly poisonous and the leaves and stems can irritate skin although I have never experienced any problem. Another source indicates it’s only the net around the fruit that is poisonous.