At present this fruit has one drawback: the often tough rind can frustrate consumers. Research to select and propagate easy-opening varieties would do much to advance this species. Also, hybridization—for example, with its close relative P. serrulata, which has a papery pericarp—may provide a new fruit with a thinner rind.
Rosy Passionfruit. In Bogotá, another well-known passionfruit is Passiflora cumbalensis. 13 This banana-shaped “curuba bogotana” is much like the true curuba (Passiflora mollissima, see above), but it has a bright, attractive, red skin.14 Its aromatic, mildly biting orange flesh is used to flavor drinks, ice cream, yogurt, or other products. Some judge the fruit to be inferior to selected strains of P. mollissima, but it still is of sufficient quality to place the fruits in local markets and supermarkets. Selecting improved varieties could likely boost its acceptance even more.
The rosy passionfruit is fairly widespread in the northern Andes15 but is most extensively cultivated in the central and eastern mountains of Colombia, especially in the Department of Cundinamarca. It grows naturally from 1,800 to more than 3,000 m throughout Colombia and into northern Ecuador. It seems to hybridize with other varieties as well as with P. mixta.
Hybridizations have also been effected between the rosy passionfruit and the curuba itself, and this line of research seems particularly promising. In fact, hybridization is a promising road to valuable new fruits among many of the different passionfruit species. It might, for instance, lead to much larger fruits and maybe even to seedless ones.
Related Species. 16 Exploratory research might also include other wild Andean passionfruits, some of which are mentioned below.
Passiflora schlimiana This species grows from 2,000–3,500 m in the Sierra Nevada of Colombia. The juice, said to taste like blackberry juice, is used to prepare sherbets and jams. The fruits are yellow and measure up to 12 cm long. Although now hardly known, this is an unusual species much deserving of research.