1. Family: Passifloraceae Juss. ex Roussel
    1. Genus: Passiflora L.
      1. Passiflora cristalina Vanderpl. & Zappi

        This new species of passion flower, a scrambling vine growing up to 4 m high, was discovered in Mato Grosso, an area presently affected by agriculture, logging and land settlers.


    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description

    This new species of passion flower was discovered while a detailed vegetation survey of the Parque Estadual Cristalino, in Northeastern Mato Grosso, was being developed. This area is presently affected by agriculture, logging and land settlers. The results of this research are currently being used by local government agencies to develop a management plan for this protected area.

    The vegetation in this part of the Amazon is very poorly known, and the survey represented a major step forward in scientific knowledge. Over 3,500 collections were made during the visit, and these are currently being identified at Kew and the University of São Paulo. These collections include at least five species that are new to science.

    There are more than 500 species of passion flower, and in the area of the Parque Estadual Cristalino the following species have been found: Passiflora acuminata, P. candollei, P. foetida, P. laurifolia, P. miniata, P. misera, P. nitida, P. oerstedii, P. subpeltata, P. cf. trifasciata and P. vespertilio.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    This species is only found in the Amazon Forest of Northern Mato Grosso, Brazil.


    Overview: A scrambling vine growing up to 4 m high. It has hairless tendrils 7 to 8 cm long and a red peduncle (flower stalk).

    Flowers: The flowers are large and showy, with a basal tube and 5 red petals. The flowers contain 5 green stamens (male parts) and 3 green stigmas (female parts). The ovary is pink. It is thought that the flowers may be pollinated by hummingbirds.

    Fruits: The fruits of this species are egg-shaped, juicy, and pale green with darker markings. They are edible and are sought after by animals such as monkeys.

    Threats and conservation

    This species is threatened by deforestation, which is carried out to clear land for cattle farming in the region. Research into the vegetation of the area, which was carried out by Kew, is being used by local government agencies to develop a management plan for this protected area.


    The fruits of this passion flower are edible, and Passiflora cristalina could also be cultivated as an ornamental.

    Amazon Forest, restricted to the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil.
    Listed by the IUCN as Data Deficient (DD) - there is not enough information to categorise this species at present.

    None known.


    Vanderplank, J. & Zappi, D. Kew Bull (2011) 66: 149. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12225-011-9255-2

    Typus: Brazil, Mato Grosso, Mun. Novo Mundo, Parque EstadualCristalino, limiteNordeste do Parque, a oeste do Olho da Xuxa, 21 Aug. 2008, 9°30′29.36″S, 55°10′50.73″W, Zappi, Milliken, Sasaki, Frisby, Henicka, Reis, Pena, Phillipsen & Piva 1340 (holotypusSPF!;isotypi HERBAM!, K!).
    Vine scrambling on forest edge, up to 4 m high, 8 cm diam- at base, climbing by tendrils, glabrous
    Stems terete, striate, green to reddish brown; tendrils terete, strong, pink or pale pink, 10 – 20 cm long; stipules linear-subulate, very soon caducous
    Leaves with petioles 8 – 12 mm long, twisted on pendent stems, with two adjacent elliptic, sessile, nectar-bearing glands on the adaxial surface 1.5 – 3 mm from base; blades ovate to narrowly ovate, coriaceous, abaxial surface shiny, adaxial surface glaucous with red veining, 7 – 8.8 ×× 3.1 – 4 cm, margin shallowly crenate, acute at apex, rounded to slightly cordate at base, submarginal glands absent
    Peduncles axillary, solitary, terete to apically winged, dull red, 10 – 17 cm long; bracts 3, inserted at the apex of the peduncle, free, lanceolate to awned, green, deciduous, 3 – 5 mm long with two prominent olive green glands at base; pedicel terete, 2 – 3 mm long
    Flowers held erect before and during anthesis, becoming pendulous as the ovary develops; floral-tube urceolate, glabrous, bright red, 10 – 11 mm long, 7 – 8 mm diam- at widest point; calyx-lobes linear-oblong, 32 – 34 ×× 8.5 – 9 mm, bright red within, dull red outside, weakly keeled with sepal awn 2 – 3 mm long, corolla-lobes narrowly oblong, 31 ×× 7 – 8 mm, bright red on both surfaces; corona filaments in two series, outer series completely free, 12 – 13 mm long, pink or red, inner series 10 mm long, lower ½ - ⅓ membranous and fused, with distal part free, operculum suberect, 3 mm long, inserted on the lower half of the floral-tube, curved, base membranaceous, distally filamentose; androgynophore erect, base angular, hexagonal, 3.7 – 4 cm long; filaments 5 mm long; anthers green above, displayed 2.4 – 2.8 cm above the corona; ovary obovate, 4 – 5 mm long, pale green; styles pink or red, 2.5 – 3 mm long, stigmas olive green
    Fruit obovate, pendulous, 4.5 ×× 2.7 – 3 cm, deep green, richly variegated with pale green blotches in six well defined sections; exocarp strong, brittle, 0.3 mm thick; mesocarp densely spongy 2 – 3 mm thick; endocarp a thin translucent white bag; funicles scattered in three wide, poorly defined rows, 3 mm long
    Seed symmetrical or slightly asymmetrical, ovoid-lenticular, 6 – 6.5 ×× 3.5 – 4 ×× 1 – 1.5 mm, margin crenate, base acute, apex rounded with obtuse triangular chalazal beak, reticulated surface on both sides.
    Known only from the type collection made in the Parque EstadualCristalino, Mato Grosso State, Brazil,
    Growing at the margin of disturbed Amazon rainforest, on sandy soil; 300 – 350 m.
    Data Deficient (DD). Passiflora cristalina was found in the southern limits of the Amazon, where large tracts of forest are being cleared out in the NE limits of the Parque EstadualCristalino through settlements and transformed into agricultural land, therefore the species, which may be locally common but is only known in that area, could become Endangered in a very short time period. The data available, however, do not allow for a IUCN category to be assigned to this species and it remains as Data Deficient for the time being.
    Flowering and fruiting during the dry season, in August.
    The specific epithet refers to the local blackwater river (Rio Cristalino) that gives its name to the protected area where the plant is found, the Parque EstadualCristalino.

    Passiflora cristalina belongs to P. supersect. Distephana alongside P. amicorumWurdack, P. bomareifoliaSteyerm & Maguire, P. ernesti Harms, P. variolataPoepp. & Endl. and P. glandulosa Cav. due to its simple, entire, ovate leaves, and two series of corona filaments, the inner series being membranous for more than half of its length (see a description of P. supersect. Distephana and a key to all its species at the end of paper). Although P. cristalina is a highly distinctive species because of its long peduncles and variegated fruit (Fig. 2), it is closely related to P. glandulosa, from the Guianas and Amazon basin in leaf type and colour and in its large bright red flowers of similar appearance (see key below for differences between species). For these reasons P. cristalina may well have been overlooked in the field, especially when not seen in flower or fruit. This possibility has influenced the decision to assess the conservation of the species as Data Deficient.

    Close examination of seeds of Passiflora cristalina and P. glandulosa (Fig. 3) has also contributed information regarding the distinct nature of the species. P. cristalina seeds are regular, ovoid-lenticular, reticulate, differing from P. glandulosa seeds, which are irregular in outline, tear-shaped and have a granular (not reticulate) surface. In fact, the seed-morphology of P. cristalina is closer to that of P. coccinea (Fig. 3) placed by Feuillet & MacDougal (2004) in a supersect. of the same name (P. coccinea seeds: symmetrical or very slightly asymmetrical, ovoid-lenticular, with narrow crenate margin, acute at base, rounded at apex with a depressed, triangular chalazal beak, sides slightly convex with reticulate-foveolate surface, testa chocolate brown, c. 5 × 2.7 × 1 mm.). Species in P. supersect. Coccinea, however, have showy, serrate bracts, a floral-tube longer than 1.5 cm and often lobed leaves.

    In lowland tropical forests the flowering of many Passiflora species is erratic, not seasonal, or annual, some may not flower for years. Flowering seems to be initiated by prolonged dry periods and changes in temperature; there may also be other factors that trigger the blooming of these species like light intensity and day length. Many Passiflora species are rarely observed flowering because the flowers are displayed at the top of the canopy; records of their flowers come from the rare occasions when they are observed flowering on low branches at the forest edge, often alongside a new road or track. However, P. glandulosa is one of the few species that flowers in low light conditions often one or two metres above ground level, sometimes in thick forest where the light conditions are poor. If P. cristalina is a species that needs a high light intensity to initiate flowering and normally flowers at the top of the canopy, it must be considered fortuitous that it was discovered at the forest edge.

    Potential as an ornamental.



    Native to:

    Brazil West-Central

    Common Names

    Passion flower

    Passiflora cristalina Vanderpl. & Zappi appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Zappi, D.C. [1340], Mato Grosso K000579332 isotype
    Zappi, D.C. [1340], Mato Grosso K000579734 isotype

    First published in Kew Bull. 66: 149 (2011)


    Kew Bulletin
    • Vanderplank, R. J. R. (2007). There are … lies, damned lies and statistics. A statistical look at the genus Passiflora. Passiflora 17: 14 – 15. Google Scholar
    • Feuillet, C. & MacDougal, J. M. (2004). A new infrageneric classification of Passiflora. Passiflora 13: 34 – 38.Google Scholar
    • IUCN (2001). IUCN Red List Categories and Critria, version 3.1. Prepared by the IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
    • Steyermark, J. A. & Maguire, B. (1967). Passiflora bomareifolia. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 17: 455 – 456.Google Scholar
    • Killip, E. P. & Cuatrecasas, J. (1960). Supplementary notes on the American species of Passifloraceae, with descriptions of new species. Contr. U. S. Natl. Herb. 35: 1 – 23.Google Scholar
    • Killip, E. P. (1938). The American species of Passifloraceae. Publ. Field Mus. Nat. Hist. Bot. Ser. 19: 1 – 613.Google Scholar
    • Masters, M. T. (1872). Passifloraceae. In: C. F. P. von Martius & A. G. Eichler (eds), Flora brasiliensis 13: 529 – 628. Fleischer, Leipzig.Google Scholar
    Kew Backbone Distributions
    • Forzza, R.C., Zappi, D. & Souza, V.C. (2016-continuously updated). Flora do Brasil 2020 em construção http://reflora.jbrj.gov.br/reflora/listaBrasil/ConsultaPublicaUC/ResultadoDaConsultaNovaConsulta.do.


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