Banana Passionfruit: The Invasive New Zealand Delicacy

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Banana passionfruit is a tropical fruit native to South America that has become invasive in parts of New Zealand. While some people enjoy its unique flavor, its invasive nature and potential ecological harm have led to efforts to control its spread.

What is a Banana Passionfruit?

Banana passionfruit (Passiflora mollissima, Passiflora tarminiana, Passiflora tripartita), also known as yellow passionfruit or curuba, is a fruit from the Passiflora family, Passifloraceae. It is native to the Andean region of South America, specifically Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. It is now also grown in other parts of the world, including New Zealand and Hawaii.

The fruit is oblong-shaped and can grow up to 10-15 cm (4-6in) in length. It has a thick yellow skin that is slightly wrinkled and contains a fleshy yellow-orange pulp with numerous black seeds.

The fruit is often eaten fresh or used in drinks, desserts, jams, or fruit salads with other tropical fruit such as kiwis, pineapples, strawberries, oranges, and mangos.

It’s also known by other names such as Banana Poka (Hawaii), Trompos (Peru, Columbia, and Curumba), Tumbo (Bolivia), Parcha (Venezuela), and Tauso (Ecuador).

In terms of flavor, banana passionfruit is known for its sweet-tart taste, with hints of banana and passionfruit. The aroma is also described as sweet and tropical. The fruit contains vitamins A and C, fiber, and potassium.

The History of Banana Passionfruit

The Banana passionfruit has a long and fascinating history. It was first domesticated before the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th century, and since then, it has been used in many traditional dishes and drinks. In Colombia, the Banana passionfruit is a staple in a deliciously thick drink called sorbete de Curuba, believed to promote restful sleep.

In Bolivia, the Banana passionfruit takes on a new life as it is mixed with aguardiente and sugar to create a unique aperitif. Meanwhile, in other parts of South America, the pulp is commonly strained to remove seeds and blended with other tropical juices for smoothies and cocktails.

Banana passionfruit was first introduced In New Zealand in the mid-19th century, after which it quickly became an invasive species, threatening native plants and ecosystems. Despite this, it made its way to the United States in the 20th century.

Despite its invasive tendencies, the Banana passionfruit continues to be cherished in many parts of the world, symbolizing South American culture and geography. 

Other than in the US (especially California), this fruit is planted in Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the Mediterranean.

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Not only are the fruits delicious, but banana passionfruit flowers are also gorgeous!

What Does a Banana Passionfruit Taste Like?

When eaten raw, the Banana Passionfruit has a sweet and tangy flavor that is often compared to a combination of banana, passionfruit, and pineapple. The pulp is typically eaten raw, either by scooping it out with a spoon or cutting the fruit in half and slurping it straight from the fruit.

The flavor of the fruit intensifies when cooked, becoming even sweeter and tangier. The seeds are also edible, and when cooked, they become crunchy and add a nice texture to dishes.

How to Tell When Banana Passionfruit is Ripe

Here are some tips on how to tell when banana passionfruit is ripe and how to select the best fruit:

TextureRipe banana passionfruit should have slightly wrinkled skin and feel slightly soft to the touch. If it’s too hard, it’s not ripe yet; if it’s too soft and mushy, it’s overripe.
FirmnessWhen you gently squeeze a ripe banana passionfruit, it should yield slightly but not too much. If it feels too squishy, it’s overripe.
ScentA ripe banana passionfruit should have a strong, sweet aroma. It may not be ripe if it doesn’t have any scent.
ColorA ripe banana passionfruit should be a bright yellow-orange color. If it’s still green, it’s not yet ripe.

Can I Eat Raw Banana Passionfruit?

Yes, banana passionfruit is edible in its raw form. Here are a few applications of the raw fruit:

Salad: You can slice the fruit and add it to a salad for a unique flavor and texture. It pairs well with other tropical fruits like mango, papaya, and pineapple.

Smoothie: Blend the fruit with other fruits and yogurt or milk for a healthy and refreshing smoothie.

Snack: Simply peel and eat the fruit as a healthy and tasty snack. It has a slightly tart flavor that is reminiscent of a combination of banana and passionfruit.

Cooking with Banana Passionfruit

Preparing Banana Passionfruit:

  1. Choose ripe fruit: Look for fruit that is slightly soft and has a yellow or orange color. Avoid fruit that is green or overly ripe with wrinkles or blemishes.
  2. Cut the fruit: Use a sharp knife to slice the fruit in half lengthwise.
  3. Scoop out the pulp: Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and seeds from the fruit. You can discard the skin.
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Tropical fruit trays are the perfect home for banana passionfruit.

Here are some specific recipes with banana passionfruit as the main star:

Banana passionfruit loaf: If you’re bananas about banana bread and passionate about banana passionfruit, then this loaf is the perfect fusion for you – now that’s a mouthful. It’s really a fruity, moist masterpiece. While the recipe calls for regular passionfruit, simply substitute in banana passionfruit!

Sorbete de curuba fantasmal: The sweetness of the banana passionfruit works perfectly with the smooth and delicate cream. So try your hand at this recipe and see for yourself what makes it so hauntingly delicious.

Panacotta with banana passionfruit: Creamy, dreamy, and oh-so-decadent, this Italian dessert is taken to the next level with the addition of tropical flavors. 

How to Store Banana Passionfruit

 Banana passionfruit can be stored at room temperature for up to one week. However, it’s best to consume it as soon as possible because it can ripen quickly.

You can also store banana passionfruit in your refrigerator crisper drawer for up to two weeks.

You can freeze your banana passionfruit by cutting it into pieces and putting them in a freezer bag for up to six months. Lastly, you can dry banana passionfruit the same way you would regular passionfruit if you want them to last for up to 1 year.

Nutritional Benefits of Banana Passionfruit

The fiber content in banana passionfruit helps to regulate the digestive tract, prevent constipation, and promote healthy bowel movements. It can also help to reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Banana passionfruit is also packed in vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy vision, promoting skin health, and supporting the immune system and the other organs. Vitamin C protects cells against damage caused by free radicals, repairs tissues throughout the body, supports a healthy immune system, and reduces inflammation.

Banana passionfruit is a rich source of antioxidants, which help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, helping fight cancer and heart disease.

Lastly, this fruit is rich in calcium, phosphorus, and iron. These minerals are essential for building strong bones and teeth, nerve function, and blood clotting. Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin and immune function.

Where to Purchase Banana Passionfruit

If you’re looking to purchase banana passionfruit, your best bet is to check specialty stores or farmers’ markets that carry exotic fruits. You can also find it online from retailers that specialize in exotic fruits. Depending on your location, the availability of banana passionfruit may vary.

In the United States, banana passionfruit is most commonly found in specialty stores in California, Hawaii, and other regions with a large Latin American population. Farmers’ markets in these areas may also carry the fruit during the peak season.

In South America, banana passionfruit is widely available in markets and grocery stores throughout the year. The peak season for the fruit varies depending on the region but generally falls between December and May.


Alexandra is a passionate writer who reveres exploring exotic fruit from far-off lands. While she’d like to one day live in a tropical paradise, she reserves that for her palate for now: from the tartness of the tamarind to the sweetness of the mangosteen. She invites others to join her on this journey of discovery, where every fruit is a new adventure.

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