Our story

Still as passionate as ever, after all these years…

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Clarence Walter Kelly was the first in Australia to graft passionfruit vines, in 1921. With two acres dedicated to passionfruit on the family farm in Moorabbin, Vic, Clary perfected the technique of grafting the popular black passionfruit vine onto a hardier rootstock, creating a plant that was less susceptible to disease, pests and frosts, and a more prolific fruiter.

When he and his wife Florence passed away in the 1970s, the business was continued by their loyal staff. Under its new and current ownership, the nursery moved to Heatherton in the 1980s, and has continued to expand. Several passionfruit varieties have been added to the range, as well as various other fruiting plants. Nellie Kelly products are readily available across Australia through major chains and leading local nurseries.

Nellie Kelly I Love You is a song, from the 1940 movie Little Nellie Kelly, starring Judy Garland in the eponymous role. Clary and Florence loved the song, and adopted it as the name for their soon-to-be famous fruit.

By the 1950s, Nellie Kelly passionfruit vines were sold and grown Australia-wide. On the advice of Sir Norman Coles, in 1958 Clary registered the name ‘Nellie Kelly’, making it one of the first plants in Australia to be trademarked.

Nellie Kelly is guided by organic farming principles, choosing natural pest control, weed control and fertilisers wherever possible. We work to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations, as well as the environment.

Nellie Kelly Passionfruit Nurseries has been helping gardeners grow edibles all over Australia since 1921. From our famous grafted passionfruit vines to fiery hot chillies, Nellie Kelly is passionate about premium quality plants.

Did you know?

In the beginning
The passionfruit plant is native to an area of sub-tropical South America that stretches from southern Brazil through Paraguay to northern Argentina. The fruits are believed to have been a part of the native diet. The passionfruit flower is the national flower of Paraguay.
Why ‘passion’ fruit
The passionflower was named flor de las cinco lagas (flower of the five wounds) by Spanish missionaries in the 1500s. They thought its markings looked like the wounds suffered by Jesus in his final hours. This last journey is known by Christians as ‘the Passion of the Christ’, hence ‘passionfruit’.
Healthy & delicious
Move over, oranges! Passionfruit is packed full of vitamin C, which lowers inflammation, fights off colds, helps the body heal, and keeps skin looking younger. Crucially, it is also full of iron, which helps your body to absorb that plentiful vitamin C. It’s also a great source of vitamin A, fibre and a host of necessary nutrients.