A beautiful article I can across entitled "Plants to Look At in Lent" by Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco - I found it beautifully explained the flower and plant and was very symbolic to this time of year. Whether you are spiritual or not, it is a lovely and meaningful description that was honored many years ago.
Here is a link to the article in case it doesn't all show up here, the site has pictures to which help you to see what they are explaining - http://www.cptryon.org/prayer/season/fusco-fl.html
Tradition holds that St. Patrick used shamrocks to explain the mysteries of the Christian faith to the people of Ireland. In the New World, Spanish missionaries used the passion flower, which is indigenous to the tropical Americas, in much the same way.
The priests christened the flower (right) they encountered in the Caribbean “la flor de las cinco llagas” — the flower of the five wounds — for its various parts were seen as symbolic of various aspects of Christ’s crucifixion.
“Early explorers felt that the passion flower had a special purpose to promote the spiritual life among the people where it grew,” wrote Patrick Jesse Pons-Worley, author of The Passionfruit Cookbook (ChloroPhorms Books, 2001; $17).
The spiraled tendons of the plant, he notes, were taken as symbols of the lashes Christ endured, and the central flower column as the pillar of the scourging. The 72 radial filaments of the flower were seen as the crown of thorns; the three stigmas as symbols of the nails used in the crucifixion, as well as the holy Trinity; the five anthers, as the five wounds of Christ; and the style as the sponge doused in vinegar used to moisten Christ’s lips. Taken together, the five petals and five sepals were used to refer to the ten apostles who did not either betray or deny Christ. The fragrance of the flower, continued Pons-Worley, helped recall the spices used to embalm the body of Christ.Finally, its globular egg-size fruit was taken as a symbol of the world that Christ saved through his suffering.
More about Passion FruitIn Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, the delicacy we know as passion fruit came to be called “granadilla,” which means small pomegranate, probably because the orange flesh is composed of seedy transparent sacs like that of a pomegranate, explained Pons-Worley, a botanical artist who raises passion fruit at his home in Royal Oaks, California.
To Elizabeth Schneider, author of Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables (Morrow, 1986; $28), the inside of the fruit “gives the impression of a tablespoon of fish eggs about to hatch or paramecia gone mad.” On the outside, she writes, “it looks like a partly deflated rubber ball left in the rain, then dried.”
Despite the fruit’s ungodly looks, passion fruit disciples contend that its taste is divine. “It’s like a fruit caviar. It tastes like a combination of pineapple and guava, a flavor like nothing else,” said Pons-Worley. “There’s a floral scent that’s wonderful. Just the fruit itself smells really good, and it carries through.”
Both that heavenly flavor and aroma can be put to practical use in a variety of beverages and dishes, including salads, entrees, desserts, jams, and jellies. Pons-Worley’s cookbook, which he sells at http://www.ponsworley.com, contains more than 180 recipes using the fruit. But sometimes simplest is best. “If you’ve got a good ripe one, just cut it in half and scoop it out and eat it, or put it on ice cream or cake,” he explained.
A decent source of vitamin A and potassium, passion fruit is available throughout the year from various regions. If you don’t see it, ask your produce manager about availability. When shopping for passion fruit, keep these pointers in mind:
- Purple-skinned varieties are most common; but you may also see yellow-skinned passion fruit. The flesh of the purple types is usually sweeter.
- “Wrinkled fruits are more ripe than non-wrinkled fruits,” noted Jonathan Crane, a tropical fruit specialist with the University of Florida. “If you want to use it right way, get a wrinkled one.” If none of the fruit is wrinkled, leave it out on your counter for a few days.
- Darkening is another sign of ripening.
- The fruit’s seeds are edible (and provide a good dose of fiber). If you prefer not to eat the seeds, strain them out by placing the flesh in a strainer and pushing on the pulp with the back of a spoon.
- Read labels of packaged passion fruit carefully. If it contains only passion fruit, you will have to add water and perhaps sugar to make a fruit drink. Some passion fruit beverages, however, already contain water and sugar.
- Passion fruit may be marketed under several Spanish names. These include labeled chinola, granadilla, maracuja, parcha, and parchita.
Looking to the Cross for Nourishment
Over the past several years doctors and nutritionists worldwide have been advising their patients to eat cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, turnips, and watercress. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, “Several laboratory studies have suggested that cruciferous vegetables help regulate a complex system of bodily enzymes that defend against cancer. Components of these vegetables have shown the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells in various cell, tissue, and animal models, including tumors of the breast, endometrium, lung, colon, liver, and cervix.”
But why the term “cruciferous”?
The dictionary tells us that the root of the word is the Latin crux, which means “cross,” and that one of the definitions for “cruciferous” is “bearing a cross.” Botanists use the term to describe a family of plants whose flowers have four petals arranged like the arms of a cross. It could just well be that humanity’s long-awaited cure for cancer may lie in the cross, the ultimate symbol of salvation.