Still called Grenadilla, “Passion Fruit” and, by mistake, “Calabash Apple”, the Maracudja is a vigorous liana, which can reach up to 15 m in length, with leaves in general deeply three-lobed. This liana is attached to its support by tendrils. Native to southern Brazil, Maracudja is grown in Martinique for its fruit, which gives an excellent juice.
Its introduction into our islands is imprecise
Although R.P. Du Tertre described two plants under the names of “Passion Flower” and “Grenadilla”, we wonder if it was really Maracudja. Indeed, the description of the Reverend Father rather makes one think of that of the Apple-Calabash, which is besides indigenous, but rare today. It is often mistaken for Maracudja. Thirty years later, Father Labat described under the name of “Liana Apples”, the fruits of a liana which bears “purple flowers at their ends, made almost like bells of an inch of diameter, and about the same height, composed of fairly large nets, the ends of which are purple in color; they come out of a yellow background, in the middle of which rises a pistil of the same color, which has a little the shape of a hammer, which is loaded with three small buttons which have that of a nail; Is that what gave this flower the name of Passion flower? ”.
This more precise description, resembling that of the Maracudja, may suggest that it existed on our islands from the end of the 17th century.
A fruit much appreciated by rats
It is well known in Martinique, that where there are Maracudjas, there are snakes. This is explained very simply by the fact that the rats are attracted to the Maracudja and that the snakes seek to eat the rats. This is the reason why, for a long time, the inhabitants of Martinique systematically destroyed all of Maracudja’s feet that grew near their house. It is all the same remarkable that Father Labat has already realized this: “Rats are extremely fond of them, they never fail to be under this plant, especially when the fruit is ripe, and to attract them by therefore the snakes … “. And he added: “the two inconveniences soon forced me to get rid of these vines …”. It is certainly with regret that Father Labat had to destroy them, because, according to him, “this fruit is very good for the breast. It is refreshing and has a good smell. We give it to the sick … “.
Nowadays, Maracudja is mainly used in the manufacture of widely consumed juice, especially in Martinique. This fruit is also eaten fresh. For this, it is enough to make, with the teeth or a knife, a small opening at one of the ends. We suck all its contents, which tastes very good, but which is still very tart.