No fruit more perfectly represents summer than lilikoi (passion fruit). Its vibrant flowers, lush vines, and succulent fruit make me want to lounge in a hammock with a POG.
Without a doubt you’ve tasted this delicious fruit, but you might not know that the flowers and vines are as useful as the fruit is tasty. And even if you’ve eaten the fruit, I guarantee you’ve haven’t tried the myriad ways you can prepare it.
That’s why in today’s article we’re going to tell you why Lilikoi is the #1 plant & fruit this summer. We’ll talk about the different parts of the plant, discuss tips for growing your own, and of course give you some tasty recipes.
Let’s get started!
Lilikoi History and Origins
Passion fruits do so well in Hawaii’s tropical climate that they seem like they’re native to the islands, but in fact they’re originally from South America, only coming to Hawaii in 1923. The name “passion fruit” comes from the Latin genus name Passiflora, which means “passion flower.”
Lilikoi refers to a particular passion fruit variation: Passiflora edulis var. flavicarpa. This variation is more tart than its commercially cultivated cousin, Passliflora edulis (known commonly as the “purple passion fruit”).
The fruit of lilikoi has a distinctive yellow skin (sometimes it’s purple) and a tart taste that makes it a great addition to recipes (more on this below).
Now that we know a bit about the history of lilikoi, let’s learn a bit more about its parts and their uses.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be hard pressed to name a plant with more beautiful flowers than lilikoi. The blossoms are absolutely lovely, with intricate purple and white patterns that look almost out of this world. The flowers can grow up to three inches in diameter and sprout all over the vines.
As if their beauty weren’t enough, the blossoms of lilikoi also have medicinal properties. You can make them into an herbal tea that can help relieve anxiety. All you have to do is harvest the blossoms and steep them in boiling water for a few minutes. The aroma alone is enough to help you relax.
And now, the part you’ve no doubt been waiting for: the fruit. I’m sure you’ve eaten lilikoi before, but if you’re growing your own there’s one additional thing you should keep in mind:
Only consume lilikoi fruits once they are mature. The immature fruits contain toxins, so make sure they’re ripe before you dig in. Ripe fruits will have a slight give to them and will be deeply yellow in color, almost golden.
If you want to eat the fruit by itself, simply cut it in half and scoop the contents out with a spoon. The seeds are a bit crunchy, but they’re certainly safe to eat. Alternatively, you can squeeze out the juice and drink that if you’d prefer not to crunch on seeds.
The most overlooked part of lilikoi is without a doubt its vines. Which is strange, since technically lilikoi is a vine, creeping and climbing over anything it can get a grip on. Seriously, these plants will overwhelm your yard if you’re not careful!
All of these vines can be put to good use. When properly harvested and dried, they make perfect basket weaving material. Imagine: a delicious bunch of lilikoi fruits sitting on your table in a basket woven from their own vines.
For some tips on weaving your own baskets, have a look at this tutorial.
How to Grow Lilikoi
Growing your own lilikoi isn’t particularly hard, provided you have the right environment.
First, make sure that you have very fertile, well-drained soil. Lilikoi grow fast, but only if they have enough nutrients. Even with fertile soil, you’ll want to add some organic, slow-release fertilizer, compost, and mulch. They’re hungry plants for sure.
Next, make sure that you plant lilikoi near something the vines can climb on. Make sure that something is sturdy, as these vines grow vigorously and quickly. Don’t put them too close to any of your other plants, as the vines can easily overwhelm them.
Finally, make sure that you give them lots of water and plant them in full sun while still protecting them from the wind.
If you follow these instructions, soon you too will have a yard full of luscious fruits and glorious flowers.
As we promised in the beginning, here are a couple of our favorite lilikoi recipes.
First, lilikoi bars. These are kind of like lemon bars, only so much better. We recommend this recipe from Chef Mark Noguchi (it even includes a video demonstration). If you give these a shot, we’d love you to share pictures of the finished product in the comments section.
Second, lilikoi margaritas. There are a lot of elaborate recipes floating around for these, but the simplest we could find is this one from The Real Girl’s Kitchen. All you need is tequila, agave, mint, ice, and (of course) lilikoi. Get the recipe here.
Or you could just skip all of this and eat the fruit with a spoon. We wouldn’t blame you. 🙂
We’re lucky to live somewhere with access to such a distinct, delicious plant. We hope this article has taught you a bit more about lilikoi and its many uses. Maybe it’s even inspired you to start growing your own, or at least to use them to make a delicious summer treat.
If you have any questions about cultivating lilikoi (or any other plant), don’t hesitate to contact us or stop by the nursery. We’re happy to help!
Have any tips for growing lilikoi? Favorite recipes? We’d love you to share them in the comments section below.