Passion fruit (Passiflora spp.) is the third most common fruit in Kenya. It belongs to the Passifloraceae family with three species under production in Kenya. The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KARLO) released three varieties (KPF4, KPF11 and KPF 12) of sweet yellow passion fruit of which KPF 4 is the most widely adopted. The other varieties under production are the purple variety and the Brazillian type popular in the coastal region. Despite the crops’ potential as an income earner, the expansion and productivity of the crop is hindered by drought stress coupled with poorly adapted varieties. This study aimed to analyze the morphological traits that confer drought tolerance to Passiflora spp. The study was carried out in two sites at Karurumo in Embu County and at the Kenyatta University farm in Kiambu County. The study was carried out on-farm and on-station and laid out in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with split plot arrangement where the three irrigation schedules (5, 10 and 15 days interval) constituted the main plots while the five varieties of Passiflora species (KPF 4, Purple, purple grafted on the yellow variety and Brazillian variety) formed the sub plots. The data collected included the plant height, number of vines regrowth and the number of leaves. A one - way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with blocking, was carried out between the genotypes and irrigation schedule using SAS 2002; Version 16.0. Plant height was shown to be the most affected morphological trait in passion fruit. The five day watering interval to field capacity resulted in the lowest disruption in morphological growth patterns. The Brazillian variety showed the highest tolerance at all watering intervals with the purple being the worst performer. The results will contribute towards improving the breeding of more adapted varieties and increasing the adoption and production of passion fruit especially in the drought prone areas.
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RUFORUM Working document series