In East Africa several different passionfruit varieties can be found. The most common ones are the Purple Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis var. edulis) and the Yellow Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis var. flavicarpa).
Purple Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis var edulis)
The most popular passionfruit for eating fresh is the purple passionfruit as it is aromatic and slightly sweeter than the yellow passionfruit. It is prone to die-back though and is usually better grown as seedlings grafted onto yellow passionfruit rootstock. Purple passionfruits are better suited for cooler and highland areas.
Yellow Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis var. flavicarpa)
Yellow passionfruits are more suitable for hoter and lowland climates. They are much more disease resistant than purple passionfruit and produce much higher yields. They are ideal for juice making.
Bananshaped Passionfruit (Passiflora mollisima)
An oddity is the softskinned bananashaped passionfruit. It is not often available. The juice tastes the same as the juice of the Purple and Yellow Passionfruit but is slightly less acidic. It is nice eaten raw but less suitable for juice making,
Giant Passionfruit (Passiflora quadrangularis)
When I first got the seeds for the giant passionfruit I was really excited, expecting something extraordinary. I had read that the flesh of these huge passionfruits could be eaten like a melon, while at the same time it produced fruit pulp for juice making. The vine produced only three fruits. Well, I thought, after all it is dual purpose. But when we finally harvested the fruits they turned out to be absolutely tasteless, not like a melon at all. The fruit pulp was the same dissapointing amount as from a purple passion. I did't bother to grow it again. It certainly is a curiosity plant for collectors, but nothing worth farming on a larger scale. The giant passionfruit does not have the typical passionfruit shaped leaves and its flowers are purple.
Sweet Passionfruit (Passiflora ligularis)
This is the passionfruit most popular with children. Its skin can easily be cracked open by hand, no need for a knife. The juice pulp is grey but sweet and aromatic and can be eaten straight out of the skin, from which it detaches without difficulties. It can be grown along fences and doesn't require any special care.
The Kawanda Agricultural Research Institute in Uganda developed a hybrid passionfruit, which is a cross between the purple and the yellow passionfruit.
Another passionfruit that can be founf in Uganda is Passiflora maliformis, which is usually yellow when ripe, has a very hard skin and greyish pulp. The leaves are not the typical passionfruit shape.
Anja Weber is the chairperson of Mama Chakula Foundation, a members' organisation dedicated to rural transformation through education & exchange; honouring old principals while embracing new technologies. She came to East Africa in 1997, when she set up the food processing units at Irente Farm. She has since worked as manager for different companies in East Africa.