The banana passionfruit smells faintly of oranges and looks a bit like a small banana. Slice it open, and its edible, orange pulp, studded with black seeds, reveals its identity as a member of the passionfruit family.
Native to Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, the fruit has a tangy, tart flavor that enhances everything from smoothies and ice cream to pies and preserves. In Colombia, where the fruit is called curuba, it is often made into a cocktail with aguardiente and sugar or a refreshing nonalcoholic drink known as sorbete de curuba, which blends its pulp with milk, sugar, and water.
While it may be tempting to import this deliciousness, the plant sometimes acts as an invasive species when it’s brought to countries outside its native habitat. In New Zealand and Hawaii, its vines kill trees by climbing to the top of the canopy and sending tendrils out laterally, which deprives host trees of sunlight. For that reason, it’s illegal to distribute or cultivate the plant in those countries. All the more reason to journey to South America and sample this natural delight in its home.
Need to Know
You might see similar-looking fruits with different scientific names. That's because there are several closely related species of banana passionfruit, including Passiflora tripartita var. mollissima and Passiflora tarminiana.