An exotic-looking Missouri native

Sunday, July 24, 2011

This beautiful flower looks like it could be an exotic transplant from a faraway rain forest, but in truth it is the bloom of a native Missouri plant.

The plant is called a passion flower. There are hundreds of kinds and colors of passion flower worldwide; only nine are native to the continental U.S.

In Southeast Missouri wild passion flowers can be found growing in brushy shaded or semishaded areas. They put out long vines with tendrils that wrap tightly around weeds, tall grass and bushes where their seed-filled fruits can mature and ripen high and dry.

Seeing a passion flower blossom for the first time can be breathtaking.

Its exceptional appearance is like no other wildflower in our part of the world.

This one was growing with many more in an old fence row.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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