Passiflora, Passionflower


Posted by John Minton | Posted in Plants | Last Updated February 27, 2014

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There are hundreds of variety of Passiflora, commonly known as Passionflower.  Passionflower is native to America and may also be known as Maypop or Apricot Vine. Most varieties are vines such as Passiflora Incarnata but Passiflora varieties may also come as shrubs or even trees. Many, but not all Passiflora, have edible fruit and medicinal uses. Passiflora has been around for a very long time cultivated by Native American Indians even before the 1400’s. Archaeologists have found Passiflora seeds that were thousands of years old at some sites. The flowers are very showy and elegant, providing a tropical feel to any garden with a multitude of colors. Passiflora is certainly one of the most amazing plants for creative gardeners to have.

Red Passiflora, Red Passion FlowerPassiflora likes sandy and acidic soils that are well drained and they like full sun. Passiflora can be propagated through seeds, layering or cuttings. Propagation by cuttings is probably the most practical method behind layering, taking about 6 inches from mature plants and planting them in a mostly sandy soil with root tone application. In the Winter, many Passiflora will die back to the ground and come right back in the Spring, growing as much as 15ft in a single season and even more in hotter Southern areas. Proper pruning and a little protection through the Winter can go a long way.

Medicinally, Passiflora is used to treat an array of anxiety, mental distress and sleeplessness. Passionflower is also combined with PassifloraValerian root and Hawthorn in products used in Europe to treat digestive spasms, gastritis, and colitis. Probably the most popular use besides eating the fruit is making tea out the flowers. No toxicity has been observed in laboratory animals, and they also showed no adverse effects of passionflower extracts administered intravenously in mice. The German monograph on passionflower lists no known contraindications, side effects or drug interactions. WebMD says that Passionflower can by used for relieving symptoms related to narcotic drug withdrawal, seizures, hysteria, asthma, symptoms of menopause, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nervousness and excitability, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, and pain relief. Some people apply passionflower to the skin for hemorrhoids, burns, pain and inflammation.

Blue Passiflora, Blue Passion FlowerIn 1605 Passionflower received its name from Pope
Paul V. The name Passiflora is derived from flos passionis, a translation of fior della passione, a popular Italian name which was applied to the plant to signify religious symbolism. The floral structure was seen to symbolize the implements of the crucifixion. The three spreading styles atop the stigma were thought to represent the three nails by which Christ was attached to the cross. Beneath these floral structures is a fringe of colored corona. It was believed to depict a halo or perhaps the crown of thorns. Beneath it sites the corolla with ten petals, each representing the ten apostles at the Crucifixion, save Peter and Judas. Both the common and Latin names – Passionflower and Passiflora – honor these visions.