Scientific Classification:

Kingdom Plantae
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Malpighiales
Family Passifloraceae
Genus Passiflora
Species P. incarnata
Binomial name Passiflora incarnata

Other Common Names:

The other common names for the passion flower are Apricot Vine, Maypop, Passiflora, Passion Vine, Purple Passionflower and Wild Passionflower.


Passiflora incarnata is the botanical name of the plant more commonly known as passion flower. The plant is part of the Passifloraceae family; there are over 500 species and 15 genera in the family. The name passion flower comes from the religious symbolism assigned to the vine by Christians. The plant itself is said to symbolize the passion of Christ. Scientists once believed that harmala alkaloids were the main psychoactive chemical in Passiflora incarnata.


It quickly caught on as a folk remedy in Europe, and was thereafter adopted by professional herbalists as a sedative and digestive aid. The plant is also nicknamed, Maypop, which is descriptive of the popping sound the fruit makes when mashed. Passion Flower, whose genus name is passiflora, is a naturally grown medicinal herb, approved by the German Commission E in the treatment of insomnia and nervousness. Passionflower was first "discovered" in Peru by a Spanish doctor named Monads in 1569 who documented the indigenous uses and took it back to the Old World where it quickly became a favourite calming and sedative herb tea.


The stem of the passion flower are smooth, or sometimes finely hairy at the growing tips and twigs, ten to thirty feet in length, the lower and older part becoming somewhat angled and ridged, climbing by means of long, coiling, axillary tendrils. Leaves alternate, three to five inches broad, usually smooth, heart-shaped at base and deeply three-lobed, the lobes pointed and sharply toothed, the slender petiole bearing two glands near the base of the blade.

Flowers solitary, axillary, about two inches broad, showy, lifted on jointed pedicels longer than the leaf-stalks, and bearing three leaflike involucral bracts just below the flower; sepals five, united at base; five large white petals inserted on the throat of the calyx and crowned with triple rows of long fringes which are pale purple with a lighter band near the center; the one-celled ovary is lifted on a stipe, or foot-stalk, subtended by the five stamens and bears at its top three club-shaped stigmas. The passionflower's ripe fruit is an egg-shaped berry that may be yellow or purple. Some kinds of passionfruit are edible.


Passion Flower is a native perennial vine of the Southeastern United States; found from. Virginia and Kentucky, south to Florida and Texas. Passionflower is now grown throughout Europe. The plant is indigenous to an area from the southeast U.S. to Argentina and Brazil.


It can be found growing in sandy thickets and open fields, roadsides, fence rows and waste places. It is often seen on the edges of fields, along side ditches and other sunny, moist and fertile places.


This is the hardiest passionflower. If the roots are protected it will survive as far north as the Pennsylvania border. It prefers a light, rich soil, and does well in dry areas. Passiflora grows readily from the seed, but takes several weeks to sprout. It is best sown on the surface of light soil or peat moss with bottom heat. The young plants may be planted in the open after 6 months. It may be propagated easily by cuttings of half-ripened growth. These should be about 6 inches long; they will root easily in sand and do not require bottom heat. The vines may eventually overgrow and tangle themselves. Thin them out by cutting branches back to their beginnings. Passionflower dies back at the first frost. The leaves, stems and flowers may be harvested at any time. This is a good way to keep the plant from crowding itself. Each year before the frost kills it, the entire vine may be cut back to the ground, yielding great quantities of herb. It may be dried in the sun or at a low heat.

Parts Used


The flowers, leaves, and stems of the passion flower are the most commonly used parts of the plant for its commercial and medicinal purposes.

Flowering Season

The flowers are hermaphrodite and are in bloom from June to July.

Pests and Diseases

A fungal disease affecting passion flower is botrytis strikes during cool, damp weather in areas where air circulation is poor. The disease, caused by Botrytis cinerea, causes unsightly brown spotting of blooms. The fungus most often affects Phalaenopsis and Cattleyas, but may be found in a wide range of orchid genera. Older flowers are highly susceptible to infection. It is also affected by cucumber mosaic virus.

Medicinal Applications

• Passion flower was used to treat nervous restlessness and gastrointestinal spasms.


• It can be very effective in nerve pain such as neuralgia and the viral infection of nerves called shingles.

• The dried aerial parts of passion flower have historically been used as a sedative and hypnotic and for "nervous" gastrointestinal complaints.

• It may be used in asthma where there is much spasmodic activity, especially when there is associated tension.

• This herb is also used to treat female anxiety during menses, childbirth and menopause.

• Passion Flower has also been known to kill bacteria, making it a good choice for treating eye problems such as inflammation and infection.

• Topical applications of this herb have included use as a compress for swollen eyes, burns and skin irritations, and as a poultice or juice for burns and wounds.

• Passionflower is used as an alternative medicine in the treatment of insomnia, nervous tension, irritability, neuralgia, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual tension and vaginal discharges.

• An infusion of the plant depresses the motor nerves of the spinal cord, making it very valuable in the treatment of back pain.

• The fruit is used as a heart tonic and to calm coughs.

• It was also used for headaches, bruises and general pain; applying the bruised leaves topically to the affected area.

• Passionfruit juice is used for urinary infections and as a mild diuretic.

• It has an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscles within the body, including the digestive system, promoting digestion.

Commercial Applications


• Dry passion flower leaves and flowers can be crushed into a powder and smoked alone or mixed with marijuana and smoked in a pipe.

• It act as sedatives and anxiolytics, are consumed as a tea or herbal supplement.

• Passion fruit is used to flavour food.

• Flowers are cooked as a vegetable or made into syrup.

• The yellow, gelatinous pulp inside the fruit is eaten out of hand, as well as mixed with water and sugar to make drinks, sherbet, jams and jellies, and even salad dressings.


According to the astro reports the passion flower is ruled by the planet Venus.

Cultural and Religious Significance

Some Christians believe the structure of the flower represents the crucifixion of Jesus. Others say the flower and the fruit represents the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ (or a halo) and the petals represent the apostles.

Folklores and Myths

Like many vines, the passion flower finds a use in love-charms because its habit of growth is symbolic of clinging love. In addition, among Catholics, it is a spiritual herb, symbolic of the crucifixion (or Passion) of Jesus. The passion flower is said to bring peace and blessings to the home when grown around the front fence or gate. For luck in love, dried passion flower, leaves or root are carried in a red flannel bag dressed with Love Me Oil. Mexicans add to such a bag a charm to the Divine Hummingbird, or Chuparrosa. In the old days this would have been a dried Hummingbird heart, but it is illegal to kill Hummingbirds now -- and with good reason, as the birds are rare.