Scientific Name: Passiflora Incarnata
Passion flower is a woody perennial creeper (vine) that climbs with the aid of coiled tendrils. It has hairless, lobed leaves and solitary open white-and-violet flowers. The Passion flower's fruit is a characteristic many-seeded berry with delicious juicy fruit pulp. Propagate Passion flower from seed in spring. It needs full sun, a watering twice weekly and a fence or support to grow on. Protect Passion flower from winter frost and replace the vines every 4-5 years.
The name Passion flower derives from the Christian symbolism of Christ's Crucifixion:
- 3 stigmas for the 3 nails
- 5 anthers for Christ's five wounds
- a finely cut corona for the crown of thorns
- 10 sepals representing the apostles present at the Cross (Peter and Judas Iscariot being absent) and
- the white and blue colours for purity and heaven
Passion flower was known as maypop and it originates in North America where the Houma tribe of Louisiana traditionally added it to their drinking water as a tonic. The Maya Indians used the crushed plant for swelling and ringworm. Passion flower was first sent to Europe as a gift for Pope Paul V in 1605. By the 19th century it was given for epilepsy and later for insomnia.
Passion flower fruit, leaves and flowers — Fresh or dried. The aerial parts are gathered when flowering or in fruit.
The ripe Passion flower fruit are eaten fresh, can be added to drinks and made into jams, jellies and tarts.
Today extracts of Passion flower are used in many sedative preparations and also in cardio-tonics. Passion flower contain serotonin, one of the main chemical messengers within the brain. Passion flower is a mild sedative and homoeopathic remedy for short bouts of nervous insomnia and disturbed sleep patterns. It is a non-addictive herbal tranquillizer, comparable to Valerian. Passion flower reduces anxiety, fears, panic attacks and treat asthma, palpitations, high blood pressure, muscle cramps and nervous gastro-intestinal disorders .
Passion flower is gentle enough for children and can be used for hyperactivity and restlessness — it helps to reduce the over activity responsible for this disorder.
- Passion flower has painkilling properties: it helps against tooth ache, head ache and period pain.
- Passion flower eases tremors in the elderly, including those associated with Parkinson's.
- Passion flower helps to relieve the vertigo and dizziness of Menieres disease.
- Take a cup of tea for tension headache and to calm underlying tension and irritable bowel syndrome or if there is an irregular heartbeat.
Here is a method on preparing a herbal tea as written by Margie Frayne in her
"Help yourself to Health – A guide for home health using healing herbs and good nutrition" :
You will need: 1 teaspoon dried aerial parts ( flowers, leaves and stem ) or 3 teaspoons fresh herb to 1 cup boiling water
- Place the herbs in a container with a lid.
- Pour the boiling (just of the boil) water over the herbs.
- Cover and stand for 5-15 minutes. Strain. Add sugar or honey if necessary.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups during the day or 1 to 2 at bedtime.
Make enough for one day only. Do not stand overnight to use the next day.
Dilute Passion flower tea with an equal amount of water and give half a cup for hyperactivity in children. Combine the infusion/tea with an equal amount or raspberry leaf to treat period pain.