A few weeks I told you there's hibiscus native to the DC area, even though most people think of it as a tropical flower. But in the "isn't this tropical?" category, our native passionflower takes the cake.
The tropical look of this flower may lead you to think of steamy nights of passion, but the 17th century missionaries who named it claimed to have religion in mind. (Was this devotion, sublimation, or a sly double entendre? We'll probably never know.) But with 10 petals for the apostles, a crown of tendrils, the five stamens representing five wounds, and three pistils for nails (or the Trinity), you've got the Passion incarnate (Passiflora incarnata): the crucifixion of Christ.
And in late summer, the vines will produce a luscious, this-should-be-tropical fruit. Each oval fruit has a green husk about 2 1/2 inches long. Inside are black seeds and juicy, gelatinous white flesh that's sweet, tart, and refreshing. These fruits are passionfruits, but they also go by another name in the south: Maypop. Presumably, they ripen earlier there.
Lake Artemesia. We'd love to hear about more!
In your yard: Passionflower prefers full sun and average moisture. But before growing passionflower you should be aware that it sends out runners that pop up far from where you originally planted it. Without attention it could easily overtake an area; in the wild it forms large, tangly masses. It might be worth trying to grow it in a pot, but I'm not sure how well it would tolerate that.