Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Passiflora tarminiana
(banana passionfruit)



Passiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit)


  • Last modified
  • 19 February 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Passiflora tarminiana
  • Preferred Common Name
  • banana passionfruit
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Although the species P. tripartita var. mollissima (formerly P. mollissima) and P. mixta have been reported as invasive in several countries, notably Hawaii, Australia and New Zeala...

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Passiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); scrambling and smothering habit. November, 2004.
CaptionPassiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); scrambling and smothering habit. November, 2004.
Copyright©Trevor James-2004/Hamilton, New Zealand
Passiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); scrambling and smothering habit. November, 2004.
HabitPassiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); scrambling and smothering habit. November, 2004.©Trevor James-2004/Hamilton, New Zealand
Passiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); flower. November, 2004.
CaptionPassiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); flower. November, 2004.
Copyright©Trevor James-2004/Hamilton, New Zealand
Passiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); flower. November, 2004.
FlowerPassiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); flower. November, 2004.©Trevor James-2004/Hamilton, New Zealand
Passiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); flower. November, 2004.
CaptionPassiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); flower. November, 2004.
Copyright©Trevor James-2004/Hamilton, New Zealand
Passiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); flower. November, 2004.
FlowerPassiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); flower. November, 2004.©Trevor James-2004/Hamilton, New Zealand
Passiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); fruit.
CaptionPassiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); fruit.
Copyright©Trevor James-2004/Hamilton, New Zealand
Passiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); fruit.
FruitPassiflora tarminiana (banana passionfruit, banana poka); fruit.©Trevor James-2004/Hamilton, New Zealand


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Passiflora tarminiana Coppens & V.E. Barney

Preferred Common Name

  • banana passionfruit

Other Scientific Names

  • Passiflora mollissima

International Common Names

  • English: banana passionfruit; banana poka

Local Common Names

  • Colombia: curuba ecuatoriana; curuba india; curuba quiteña
  • Ecuador: tacso amarillo

Summary of Invasiveness

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Although the species P. tripartita var. mollissima (formerly P. mollissima) and P. mixta have been reported as invasive in several countries, notably Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, recent changes in the taxonomy of these species have meant that the distribution and invasiveness of P. tarminiana and other species of Passiflora is less clearly defined. However, P. tarminiana is now recognized as the only banana passionfruit taxon in Hawaii (HEAR, 2012) and, since its introduction there in the early 1900s, it has spread to infest thousands of acres of native forest (HEAR, 2012). PIER (2012) has assessed its weed risk assessment score at a very high 24.

The species’ climbing habit makes it hard to find and therefore control, and its seed is spread by feral pigs and native birds in Hawaii (PIER, 2012), and by introduced feral pigs and Australian brush-tailed possums in New Zealand (Beavon, 2007). It can spread rapidly and covers the ground, shrubs and even tall-growing trees, preventing regeneration, disrupting ecological processes and threatening biodiversity.

Rejmánek (2009) reported that the species can now be confirmed as invasive in California.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Violales
  •                         Family: Passifloraceae
  •                             Genus: Passiflora
  •                                 Species: Passiflora tarminiana

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Until 2001, Passiflora tarminiana was considered a form of P. tripartita var. mollissima (itself earlier known as P. mollissima), but Coppens d’Eeckenbrugge et al. (2001) described it as a new species. They expressed surprise that, despite the fact that producers and consumers of its fruit readily recognised it, it had not previously been thought of as a different species. Coppens d’Eeckenbrugge et al. (2001) reported that some had earlier thought it to be a hybrid, but the authors found that plants grown from seed showed no segregation of the phenotypic traits of the supposed parent species, and concluded it was therefore unlikely to be a hybrid.

The earlier Hawaiian literature on the biology and control of P. mollissima is therefore now known to refer to P. tarminiana. However, as a result of the earlier confusion over specific names, knowing which species was referred to in much of the literature elsewhere is now difficult to interpret and should be treated with caution.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Seed propagated
Vine / climber


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Coppens d’Eeckenbrugge et al. (2001) reported that P. tarminiana is the second most cultivated species in the Andes after P. tripartita var. mollissima (formerly P. mollissima); they found it ‘almost everywhere’ in the highlands of Colombia, the Venezuelan Andes, southern Ecuador and Peru. It has obviously been taken elsewhere – Réunion, California, Ethiopia – for cultivation and possibly also to Mexico and Panama (Coppens d’Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001). The species was presumably deliberately taken to New Zealand and Australia as a potential crop or as a garden specimen.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


MaldivesUnconfirmed recordGBIF, 2012
Sri LankaPresentGBIF, 2012


EthiopiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCoppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001
KenyaPresentWitt and Luke, 2017
RéunionPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
ZimbabwePresentGBIF, 2012

North America

MexicoPresentCoppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Rejmánek, 2009McWay Creek, by the entrance to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, 25 km SE of Point Sur, Monterey Co
-HawaiiWidespreadIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2012

Central America and Caribbean

GuatemalaPresentGBIF, 2012
PanamaPresentCoppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001

South America

BoliviaPresent only in captivity/cultivationNativeCoppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001
ColombiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
EcuadorPresent only in captivity/cultivationNativeCoppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001
PeruPresent only in captivity/cultivationNativeCoppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001
VenezuelaPresent only in captivity/cultivationNativeCoppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001


AustraliaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2012
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedHarden and Wilson, 2012Sporadically naturalised; from mid-North Coast, south into Victoria
-QueenslandPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedHarden and Wilson, 2012
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedHarden and Wilson, 2012
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedHarden and Wilson, 2012
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Invasive Anon, 2009Ranges Area
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2013Guam Island
New ZealandLocalisedIntroduced Invasive Heenan and Sykes, 2003Northern North Island
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedCoppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001; GBIF, 2012

History of Introduction and Spread

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The first Australian collection record of this species was in Sydney, New South Wales, in 1893 (The Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2012). The first records of the species as naturalized in New Zealand are from 1970 and 1972, both in the Northland region (Heenan and Sykes, 2003).

La Rosa (1984) noted that the exact date of introduction of ‘P. mollissima’ (i.e. P. tarminiana; see Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature) to the Hawaiian islands is unknown, but that it was first observed near the Puuwaawaa Ranch, North Kona, in 1921.

P. tarminiana has now been confirmed as invasive in California (Rejmánek, 2009).

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of accidental movement of P. tarminiana is slight. The most likely avenue of introduction is deliberate actions by humans in importing seed or plants as a potential crop or as a garden ornamental.


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P. tarmimiana is often cultivated in the Andes at elevations of between 2000 m and over 3000 m, a greater range than that of its relatives in the subgenus Tacsonia (Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001). Rejmánek (2009) reported that this species is not known from natural habitats but it is cultivated and spreading in disturbed habitats in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

However, in Hawaii, and increasingly elsewhere, its vigorous climbing and scrambling growth makes it an aggressive and damaging invader of forest and scrub once these environments have been opened up by natural or human disturbance (Heenan and Sykes, 2001; Rejmánek, 2009; PIER, 2012; Weeds of Australia, 2012). It has proved capable of smothering even tall forest trees in both tropical and sub-tropical climates. According to Binggeli (1997, in ISSG, 2012), P. tarminiana ‘suppresses tree regeneration, topples shallow-rooted trees, kills standing trees through shading and lowers species richness’.

In Hawaii, Starr et al. (2003) described ‘P. mollissima’ (i.e. P. tarminiana; see Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature) as a serious pest in mesic forest between 850-2225 m (2789-7300 ft), on Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii, where it can be found in a variety of habitats including both open and closed forests of black wattle (Acacia mearnsii), koa (Acacia koa), and 'Ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha), as well as mixed native species associations and hapuu tree fern (Cibotium) forests (La Rosa, 1984).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details

Hosts/Species Affected

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Rejmánek (2009) reported that P. tarminiana has been observed in California 'climbing up to 12 m [high] on trees, including Alnus rhombifoliaSequoia sempervirens and Umbellularia californica.'

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

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Ocampo (2010) reported the chromosome number as 2n=18. Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge (2001) reported that P. tarminiana hybridises readily with other species of the subgenus Tacsonia, producing fertile hybrids with P. tripartita var. mollissima and P. mixta. However, Segura et al. (2005) examined the isozyme variation in P. tarminiana, P. mixta and P. tripartita var. mollissima and found that all accessions of P. tarminiana formed a clearly differentiated group, although some introgression with P. tripartita var. mollissima was suspected.

Reproductive Biology

The species mainly outcrosses, although self-pollination can occur (ISSG, 2012). The large edible fruits contain numerous seeds.

In Hawaii, birds are commonly assumed to pollinate the flowers although La Rosa (1984) found little evidence to support this. In South America, hummingbirds pollinate flowers when probing for nectar located at the base of the long corolla tube. Although many nectivorous birds, both native and exotic, may be found in Hawaii, none possess a bill of sufficient length to gain access to the nectar of P. tarminiana (La Rosa, 1984).

In New Zealand, Beavon (2007) and Beavon and Kelly (2012) observed that germination of the related P. tripartita var. mollissima was effected by honeybees (Apis mellifera) and bumblebees (Bombus spp). They also found that excluding pollinators reduced fruit set considerably. Beavon (2007) suggested that bees are probably much less effective pollinators than humming birds because bees are able to collect pollen and nectar without having to brush the stigma of the large flowers.

La Rosa (1984) examined the germination behaviour of P. tarminiana. Seeds require a short period of after-ripening. Germination is staggered and most seedlings emerge within 4 to 12 weeks. Germination success is not affected by light intensity but the rate increases with higher temperatures that are associated with increasing light. At very low light intensities – 2.0% relative light intensity (RLI) – the germination rate is significantly inhibited.

La Rosa (1984) also found that growth of seedlings was slow by comparison with other stages in the life cycle. Heaviest mortality occurred between germination and the seedling stage. The juvenile phase was characterized by rapid growth (up to 3 m/yr) and distinctive morphology, which can also be found in rapidly-growing adult shoots. Survival from the juvenile to the adult phase of the life cycle is very high. Under favourable conditions, individuals may go from seed to reproductive maturity in a single year.

Physiology and Phenology

Plants can grow from seed to flowering in about one year (La Rosa, 1984). The same author found that in Hawaii all phases of flowering were concentrated in the drier summer months (May - August), and fruiting in the wet winter months (December - March). No strong correlations were found between climatic variables and phenological activity.

La Rosa (1984) observed that net assimilation rates and relative growth rates increased with increasing light intensity. Optimal growth occurred in full sun. Intermediate levels of shade (2-14% RLI) induced etiolation and resulted in rapid height growth, and greatest shade tolerance was exhibited at these intermediate intensities. At very low light levels (0.35% RLI) growth was severely restricted and some individuals were regularly below the compensation point of photosynthesis and respiration.


According to Binggeli (1997, in ISSG, 2012), adult plants can reach 20 years of age.

Population size and structure

La Rosa (1984) found that seedling density in Hawaii ranged from 540 to 554,000 individuals per hectare and was considerably higher in areas of heavy pig activity.


P. tarminiana is commonly grown as a crop in its native Andean range, although wild plants are also found there, having escaped from cultivation. In Hawaii, the principal vegetation types infested with this species include open and closed forests of Acacia koa and Metrosideros collina, mixed native species associations, tree fern forests (Cibotium spp.) and pastures (La Rosa, 1984).

Environmental Requirements

Taken from ISSG (2013):

P. tarminiana tolerates both high and low light levels, although seedlings do not tolerate dense shade. It is tolerant of occasional frosts. P. tarminiana naturally occurs between 2000 and 3600 m above sea level in its native Andes, but can be found growing at sea level in its introduced range. It grows in areas with mean annual rainfall between 800 and 1300 mm and a mean annual temperature of 11.4 to 15.0°C.

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
0 3600

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 11.4 15


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall8001300mm; lower/upper limits

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Cyanotricha necyria Herbivore Leaves not specific Hawaii Y
Josia fluonia Leaves not specific Hawaii Y
Pyrausta perelegans Herbivore Growing point/Leaves to species Hawaii Y
Septoria passiflorae Pathogen to species Hawaii Y

Notes on Natural Enemies

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As P. tarminiana has proved to be a serious threat to native vegetation in Hawaii and elsewhere, its natural habitat in the high Andes has been searched for its natural enemies. Coppens d’Eeckenbrugge et al. (2001) reported that P. taminiana seemed to be more resistant to fungi than the more commonly grown P. tripartita var. mollissima, and that oidia had not been observed on its leaves nor anthrocnosis necrotic spots on its fruits. They also reported that P. tarminiana is tolerant or resistant to fusariosis. Pemberton (1989) described some of the natural enemies found in South America, some of which have been subsequently tested and a few released in Hawaii. Natural enemies considered for biocontrol in Hawaii by HEAR (2009) include: Cyanotrica necyria, Josia fluonia and Josia ligata (Lepidoptera: Notodontidae); Pyraustras perelegans (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae); Septoria Passiflorae (Deuteromycetes, Dothidiaceae) and Zapriotheca nr. nudiseta (Diptera: Drosophilidae).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural dispersal (non-biotic)

Non-biotic natural dispersal is unlikely to occur, except to some degree by water, as this species tends to spread along water courses. La Rosa (1984) also suggested that cattle and horses may contribute to the spread of this species, as might exotic and native bird species.

Vector transmission (biotic)

In both Hawaii (La Rosa, 1984) and New Zealand (Beavon, 2007), seeds of P. tarminiana are spread by feral pigs eating the fruit. In New Zealand, the introduced Australian brush-tailed possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) is responsible for distributing the seed of this and other species of Passiflora (Williams et al., 2001).

In Hawaii, La Rosa (1894) suggested that 'many game and forest birds, both exotic and to a lesser extent native, likely disperse seeds of Passiflora mollissima [i.e. P. tarmiana; see Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature] and may be responsible for the establishment of isolated populations.'

Rats have been observed to eat Passiflora seeds in New Zealand, but the seeds were destroyed during the passage through the gut (Williams et al., 2000).

Beavon (2007) found no evidence of seed dispersal by birds in New Zealand. Williams and Karl (1996) and Williams (2006) observed pukeko (Porphyrio porphyrio), blackbirds (Turdus merula) and white-eyes (Zosterops sp.) eating fruit and excreting the seeds, although none of the seeds ingested by white-eyes germinated.

Accidental introduction

The chance of accidental introduction is very slight as seeds could only be carried by human agency.

Intentional introduction

Plants or seeds of P. tarminiana have been taken from their native habitat and planted in Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere as a potential crop or as an attractive horticultural specimen. Some keen gardeners and nurseries specialise in species of the genus Passiflora, and are often keen to own new species. There is always, therefore, a risk of intentional introduction to new countries.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionCultivated for fruit and flowers Yes Yes Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al., 2001

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Host and vector organismsPossums and possibly rats Yes Beavon, 2007
LivestockFeral pigs in Hawaii and, possibly, New Zealand Yes Beavon, 2007; PIER, 2012

Vectors and Intermediate Hosts

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RattusBeavon, 2007. OtherNew Zealand
Sus scrofaBeavon, 2007. OtherHawaii

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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In Hawaii, P. tarminiana is apparently most successful as an invader in mesic Acacia koa-Metrosideros polymorpha forests (Warshauer et al., 1983). Acacia koa, known as koa, is the largest native tree in Hawaii and its timber is very valuable. It is also important in forest ecology because it fixes nitrogen. It is also probably important in ecosystem services, such as the role of forests in storing and purifying water and improving air quality. Where it has naturalized in Australia and New Zealand, P. tarminiana has adversely affected the structure and functioning of native vegetation and thus affected ecosystems services. Its economic impacts must also include the considerable costs of research into its biology and control, as well as the direct costs of its control.

No estimates of its commercial economic value are available in its native countries, but as the second most important edible passion fruit in its native environment its economic impact is likely to be significant. It will also have economic value as a commercially traded ornamental, but there are no available estimates of this value either.

Environmental Impact

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P. tarminiana has the ability to swamp of even tall-growing trees and badly restrict the regeneration of native forest. In Hawaii about 50,000 ha of forest are infested and have been seriously damaged as a result (Warshauer et al., 1983; La Rosa, 1984). In New Zealand and Australia, P. tarminiana and its close relatives have had similar effects on native vegetation.

In its native areas, the species has little effect on local environmental services. In countries to which it has been introduced it has a negative effect on such services.

Social Impact

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Native vegetation is very valuable to the beliefs, practices and way of life of native cultures in the countries where this species has become a problem; by threatening those vegetation types, P. tarminiana has impacts on local culture. P. tarminiana is also a popular ornamental plant in several countries.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control


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P. tarminiana is the second most important of the edible passion fruits in its native environment of the high Andes, where it is most often found in private gardens but is also grown as a commercial crop (Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge, 2001). It has also been taken to other countries such as the USA, Australia and New Zealand either as an attractive garden flower or as a potential food crop.

Uses List

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  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Other members of the subgenus Tacsonia (especially the very similar P. tripartita and P. mixta) differ from P. tarminiana in having larger, permanently-attached stipules, a longer calyx tube relative to the corolla length, a nectary chamber only slightly wider than the calyx tube, and flowers that are slightly different in colour. Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al. (2001) presented a table comparing these three species, which can be found at PIER (2013), and Heenan and Sykes (2003) provided a comprehensive key to the Passiflora species in New Zealand detailing the distinguishing characteristics of P. tarminiana.

Prevention and Control

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Movement of this species to countries where it does not already occur should be carefully controlled as it has clearly demonstrated its ability to aggressively invade natural ecosystems.

In Australia and New Zealand, members of the public are discouraged from planting the species in their gardens because of the danger it poses to nearby bush areas. New Zealand’s ‘Plant me Instead’ booklets (Weedbusters, 2012) recommend planting the native P. tetranda as an alternative.

Cultural Control

Cattle have reportedly been used to help control P. tarminiana in Hawaiian forests. In Hawaii the plant is often dispersed by feral pigs and has been recorded to decrease in number after the removal of pigs from an area (Scheffler et al., 2012).

Physical/Mechanical Control

Small plants can be hand pulled, but will regrow unless all the roots are removed.

Biological control

Biological control has been long considered the most practical, cost effective and sustainable approach to tackle P. tarminiana invasion in Hawaii. For this reason the native Andean habitats of P. tarminiana have been explored for possible biocontrol agents. Several problems have arisen in the search for suitable biocontrol agents. One has been confusion over the taxonomy of this and related species. Until 2001 the species of Passiflora present in Hawaii was thought to be P. mollissima, but it is now known to P. tarminiana. The early searches for biocontrol agents in the Andes were probably for those that attacked either the more commonly cultivated P. tripartita var. mollissima or P. tarminiana. Another problem has been the need to ensure that the often cultivated edible passion fruit P.edulis is not affected by the agents. 

The first agent to be introduced to Hawaii was the leaf feeder Cyanotrica necyria (Lepidoptera: Notodontidae) from Ecuador and Colombia, which was released in Hawaii in 1988. It established but had no demonstrable effect on the target species (HEAR, 2009).

Josia fluonia (Lepidoptera: Notodontidae), a defoliator, was recommended for release in Hawaii as a biological control agent, but experiments indicated it can survive on edible passionfruit (P. edulis f. flavicarpa). The insect did not appear to have a significant impact on the target plant (HEAR, 2009).

Pyraustras perelegans (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), released in Hawaii in 1991, feeds on leaves and buds of P. tarminiana. It had little effect. It established on the Big Island, but population levels were extremely variable. The insect may have been unable to overcome the many generalist lepidopteran parasitoids in Hawaii, or it may have been susceptible to a fungus (Metschnikowia sp.) (HEAR, 2009).

The fungus Septoria passiflorae (Deuteromycetes: Dothidiaceae) was released in Hawaii in 1986 and had an apparently dramatic defoliating effect in Laupahoehoe (Big Island), but the cause of defoliation was not confirmed, and drought may have been a factor (HEAR, 2009). According to Trujillo et al. (2001) this fungus had proved to be an effective defoliator of the target weed with no apparent damage to surrounding forest species or to other Passiflora spp. in Hawaii.

In New Zealand, Septoria leaf spot fungus (Mycosphaerella populorum) was trialled as a biocontrol agent but, although the fungus proved to be virulent on the weedy species of Passiflora in New Zealand, it also infected the crop species P. edulis and was therefore not considered safe for release in New Zealand (Hayes, 2005).

Other biocontrol agents have been tested for host specificity and also found wanting because of their likely impact on P. edulis.

Chemical control

Herbicides that give effective control of Passiflora species include glyphosate and metsulfuron. They can be applied by knapsack, brush gun or by the cut stump method. Both herbicides will also kill or damage desirable plant tissue that they contact so they must be applied very carefully. Probably the best method of control involves cutting the vines back as low as possible in winter or early spring and then spraying the regrowth later in spring with herbicide. The cut vines should be left hanging in the tree to dry out before being removed to prevent them from re-growing if they contact the ground, and to prevent damage to the host tree.

For larger plants the cut stump treatment works well. This involves tracing the vines back to the root and cutting them off as close to the root as possible before immediately treating the cut surface with a suitable herbicide. This can be done by applying undiluted herbicide with a paint brush or, alternatively, gel formulations of either glyphosate or picloram are available in some countries.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Biocontrol is almost certainly the best means of control for vines like Passiflora spp. and searches for alternative agents should continue, along with the improvement of methods for testing host specificity and better methods of introducing and distributing such agents.


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Anon, 2009. Advisory list of environmental weeds of the Ranges bioregions of Victoria. Melbourne, Australia: Victorian Government Department of Sustainability and Environment.

Beavon M, 2007. Pollination and dispersal of the noxious vine Passiflora mollissima. Cantebury, New Zealand: University of Canterbury Environmental Science.

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HEAR, 2012. Alien species in Hawaii. Hawaii Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: University of Hawaii.

Heenan PB, Sykes WR, 2003. Passiflora (Passifloraceae) in New Zealand: a revised key with notes on distribution. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 41:217-221

ISSG, 2012. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland.

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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
HEAR 2012
ISSG 2012
PIER 2012


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29/11/12 Original text by:

Ian Popay, consultant, New Zealand, with the support of Landcare Research.

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