Help me determine if this is edible in some way other than giving it to Ralph Wiggum to taste.
July 20, 2010 2:24 PM   Subscribe

What kind of fruit or vegetable is this? And more important, can I eat it?

As part of my ongoing skunk problem research I was told by multiple sources that, in the absence of porch or basement they're hiding in, there is usually something the skunks on your property are eating. And that's why they keep coming back. With our trash lids closed I started looking for something else they might be nibbling on. And behind our back fence I saw these.


They're growing on the fence itself. They're orange with red fleshy seeds like pomegranates or something. So are these things edible? Is that what the skunks are eating?

And, on a related note, can I eat them as well?
posted by rileyray3000 to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like passion fruit and humans find them delicious>
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 2:29 PM on July 20, 2010

Where do you live?
posted by Madamina at 2:30 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: I'm in Los Angeles. Could I have passion fruit in my backyard?
posted by rileyray3000 at 2:31 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: Okay it doesn't look like passion fruit.
posted by rileyray3000 at 2:32 PM on July 20, 2010

Are those pods smooth, or lumpy?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:33 PM on July 20, 2010

posted by allelopath at 2:38 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: You mean the actual fruit? Smooth and oblong. Like an oval peach.
posted by rileyray3000 at 2:38 PM on July 20, 2010

You could definitely have passion fruit in LA (it's all over the place here in NoCal), but that doesn't look like passion fruit to me.
posted by trip and a half at 2:39 PM on July 20, 2010

They don't really look much like passion fruit.

Are they growing attached to a tree, or a vine? The seeds look so much like pomegranates that I'd guess it's an odd cultivar or maybe a close relative. But it would probably need to be growing on a tree. Also, the shape of the fruit itself doesn't look right - I found some photos of pomegranate cultivars online, but they all have that distinctive trumpet-like shape at the bottom.
posted by Sara C. at 2:39 PM on July 20, 2010

seconding some form of pomegranates based on the seeds.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 2:45 PM on July 20, 2010

I agree with allelopath - they definitely look like mormordica. But not bitter gourd specifically.

Bitter gourd is, ummm, an acquired taste. But supposedly very healthy. This looks like it should taste good, but I think that's because the seeds look like pomegranate seeds.
posted by Sara C. at 2:45 PM on July 20, 2010

My Orange County-based foodie friend says that is no passion fruit. He is also pretty sure that "no bitter melon in the history of history looks like that," that is, smooth and oblong. Bitter melon's usually warty and ridged.

It could be some other subspecies of Momordica.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:47 PM on July 20, 2010

Here is a forum post with a similar question. The mystery fruit looks just like yours, and was identified as passion fruit by the other posters. I don't think it looks like what the internet says a passion fruit is supposed to look like, either, but at least there's another example there to back up MonkeySaltedNut's answer.
posted by phunniemee at 2:48 PM on July 20, 2010

Used to see those all the time in Southern California. I don't know what they are, but I do not know of anyone ever eating them, or even considering that they could be eaten.

They're fun to throw at your friends, though. Wear clothes you don't care about.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:48 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Passiflora caerule "are sweet & mild. In 2002 many of the fruits were partially hollow & only one-third filled with seeds; the percentage of the interior taken up by seeds will vary from plant to plant & species to species. In 2003 the bright red pulpy seeds were much more tightly packed inside the eggs ... "
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 2:51 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, here's a picture found while doing a google image search for underripe passion fruit. Looks like that's the right answer.
posted by phunniemee at 2:52 PM on July 20, 2010

nthing doesn't look like pomegranate or passion fruit. I'm looking in a food encyclopedia, but i don't see anything exactly like it. Horned melon has (obviously) horns but the insides are orange/peach not bright red. Could it be a kind of guava? the seeds look wrong for that too.

from the photo, it looks like the part surrounding the seeds is feathery & dry... is that right?

What does it smell like?

I'm super curious as to what you learn about it!
posted by ChefJoAnna at 2:52 PM on July 20, 2010

Wikipeia Passiflora_caerulea
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 2:56 PM on July 20, 2010

Apparently they kind of suck for eating, but they're edible, if Phunniemee and Monkey are right and it is Passiflora caerula (wikipedia).
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:57 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: So is it underripe now and it'll get better?
posted by rileyray3000 at 3:36 PM on July 20, 2010

Not if the skunks keep eating it.
posted by Max Power at 3:46 PM on July 20, 2010

It will get sweeter but blander as it ripens. Your fruit looks fairly ripe to me. I would taste it, and then skunks allowing, sample fruits allowed to ripen further on the vine.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 3:52 PM on July 20, 2010

You've got Passiflora caerula. Not very tasty. The tasty passionfruit you see in farmers' markets and grocery stores is Passiflora edulis. They're related. I don't think yours is underripe. It's just that P. caerula fruit is orange and P. edulis fruit is purple.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:57 PM on July 20, 2010

Looks to me like Banana Passionfruit. (Passiflora tarminiana = Passiflora mollisima). We had a vine of these on a back shed where I grew up in Northern Tasmania (It's regarded as a weed here in Australia).
If it is, it's absolutely delicious.
Soft orangey-yellowy skin that easily peels off using fingers (unlike regular passionfruit.) Has white membranous material just inside the skin - the skin looks a little like mandarine peel, but a matte rather than shiny outer skin surface. Inside looks exactly like a regular passionfruit.
The inner flesh is very like a passionfruit, but tastes rounder, sweeter, and less sharp.
posted by metaphorical at 4:40 PM on July 20, 2010

Bland edible fruit and the vines will pretty much takeover whatever is within its grasp. Or at least they did in the backyard of the old house speicus used to live in in Silver Lake.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:54 PM on July 20, 2010

No one I know in LA eats the things, and most of them are "hey, what's this, let me chew it and find out if it's nice" types who will climb on your garage just to get at fruit from a tree you never really noticed was technically on your neighbor's property. I'm a strict "needs to say Dole and be in a can" person when it comes to fruit. Makes a terrible mess; I second the shirt-you-don't-care-about advice.
posted by SMPA at 4:58 PM on July 20, 2010

A master gardener could definitely identify these. I am not sure about LA, but my local library has one in once a month. There is sure to be some kind of similar program in your area. If you do find someone, make sure to take leaves and fruit in for identification.

Upon googling, I see that there is a program run by UC Davis.
posted by annsunny at 9:28 PM on July 20, 2010

Not very tasty as fruits go but when I was a child in the country, we loved this vine, both the flowers and later the Maypops which we always ate at least once when they showed up. We also made up games to play with them. I'd bet your visitors are eating them.
posted by Anitanola at 9:36 PM on July 20, 2010

Yeah it's passionfruit, used as a disease resistant grafting stock for the nice stuff, which is why it'll often turn up after the wanted passionfruit has died.
posted by wilful at 10:38 PM on July 20, 2010

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