Passionflowers are a conspicuous component of the flora of the Neotropics. Their beautiful brightly colored flowers with unusual fringed coronas attracted the attention of the earliest explorers. Missionaries of the 1600s took the flower to symbolize the passion, or suffering, of Christ. They interpreted the coronal filaments as the crown of thorns, the stigmas as the nails, and the anthers as the five wounds inflicted upon Christ. This symbolism led to the name of the family and its most diverse genus. The family Passifloraceae includes about 660 species in two tribes: Paropsieae are shrubs and small trees, while Passifloreae are tendril-bearing climbers. All genera have a floral corona. MBG botanists John MacDougal and Peter M. Jørgensen, co-wrote these sections and are among the world's experts on Passifloraceae. They curate the collection at MBG and do research on the Neotropical members of the family.
This photo essay is the web depiction of a special poster included in the Missouri Botanical Garden 2001 Calendar. All of the images appearing on the poster are included here, along with their accompanying descriptions. The poster was dedicated to the memory of Linda K. Albert de Escobar, 1940-93, a botanist who studied the Passiflora in its center of diversity, Colombia. She concentrated on the groups Astrophea and Tacsonia. She also directed the herbarium at the University of Antioquia in Medellín from 1984 to 1990.
Background image of Passiflora serratodigitata courtesy of Lawrence E. Gilbert, Univ. of Texas, Austin.
Website designed and maintained by Beth Owen.