Plant specialists, the Museo Nacional, have discovered yet another species of passion flowers in rain forests around rivers and streams in the Cantón de Osa.
The new species is Passiflora soliana which is similar to a species that grows at a higher elevation. But the new species has slightly smaller flowers, according to an academic report by the museum.
The discoverer is Armando Estrada, who works at the museum’s Herbarium, and Gerardo Rivera, identified by the museum as an independent researcher.
Other species of passion flower are well known to expats for their beauty in the garden or for the tropical fruit they produce. In Costa
Rica, the principal fruit is called maracuyá in Spanish or grandilla in both Spanish and English. In Costa Rica the golden maracuyá is eaten out of hand or in drinks. The seeds are edible.
The museum said that with the new discovery, the number of passion flower species in Costa Rica amounted to 52. There are 10 times that number identified in the world with some 97 percent being in the New World.
The museum announcement noted that the name passion flower is not related to romantic passion. Instead, the Christian missionaries of the 15th and 16th centuries used the flower as a representation of the death of Christ on the cross. Each piece of the flower was equated to items involved in the Crucifixion. They include the three nails that are said to have been used to crucify Christ and the five wounds that he received, according to Christian doctrine.