Foods Indigenous to the Western Hemisphere

Giant Granadilla

Passiflora quadrangularis
Also known as giant tumbo, barbadine, badea

By Scott Sheu

Origin and Distribution

No one is quite sure about the exact location, but the giant granadilla is believed to have originated in tropical America. The plants were first noted on the Caribbean Islands and spread to Southeast Asia in the 18th century, where it has become largely naturalized there. Nowadays, it is also cultivated in Australia, India, and Africa, though it is most commonly grown in Latin America. In the US, there have been a few vines grown in Florida, but not to a significant extent.

Botanical Description

The giant granadilla grows on coarse vines that climbs on trees usually to a height of 33-50 ft. The broad, oval-shaped leaves are fairly large and dark evergreen. The distinctive-looking flowers are white and purple, with wide-spreading petals and prominent stamen.

The giant granadilla fruit is the largest of the Passiflora species; it grows up to 10 in. in length and has a oblong shape. It ripens in the summer and tends to be yellowish-green with smooth, thin skin that may have gentle ribs. The thick flesh is pinkish-white and mild in flavor, with a thin skin that separates it from the pulp. There are many small seeds in the central cavity that are held by the juicy pulp.

Culinary Usage

The giant granadilla is sometimes plucked when unripe and treated like a vegetable. When ripe, the soft flesh can be cut up and used in salads or pulverized and used in deserts. It is oftentimes mixed with sugar because of its bland taste or cooked in milk to make a thin pudding (Missouri). In Latin America, the giant granadilla is also popular candied or turned into a preserve. The rind can be used to make sweetmeats.

The pulp is also somewhat bland, but the aril, or flesh surrounding the seed itself, is tartly sweet and flavorful. For beverages, the pulp and flesh are used for juices that taste similar to pear while wine is made in Australia from the fruit (Morton).

Other Usages

Amazonians use the stem for poison and the leaves, roots, and flowers to induce abortions. The roots are considered to be narcotic and is also used to induce vomiting. They are also powdered and mixed with oil to produce a poultice, as are the leaves. The Trinidadians brew a tea from the leaves to treat diabetes and high blood pressure. In Brazil, the giant granadilla flesh is used to treat a wide range of symptoms, including headaches, asthma, diarrhea, and dysentery (Duke).



Duke, James A. and Judith L. DuCellier. The CRC Handbook of Alternative Cash Crops. CRC Press; 1993. Boca Raton, FL. Duke, James A. and Rodolfo Vasquez. Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary. CRC Press: 1994. Boca Raton, FL.

Morton, Julia. "Grapefruit." Fruits of Warm Climates. Miami: Florida Flair Books, 1987. Web.

Woodson, Robert E., and Robert W. Schery. "Flora of Panama." Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 45 (1958). Web.