Passionflower, also known as passiflora incarnata, maypop, apricot vine, water lemon or wild passion vine is a fast-growing perennial, which gardeners love growing.
Its large flowers have 5 long stamens and 5 white petals, magenta to blue. According to tradition, it is called passion vine because its floral parts represent the elements of the Crucifixion (3 styles for the 3 nails, 5 stamens for the 5 wounds, the ovary for the hammer, and the corona which resembles Jesus’ crown of thorns).
Passionflower was brought to America from Peru by Spanish explorers in 1569.
It was commonly known as ‘ocoee’ among the Cherokees in the Tennessee area (the namesake river and valley were actually named after it). In 1919, it was declared the official state flower of the state of Tennessee. Nowadays, Passionflower grows in Southeastern American riverbanks, roadsides, and railroads, from Florida to Texas, as well as throughout Europe, thriving in sunny areas and is tolerant to drought.
This amazing flower is valuable for its pharmacological properties and is frequently prescribed to treat several disorders, such as upset stomach, irregular heart rate, high blood pressure, burns, and hemorrhoids even epilepsy, and hysteria. It is also applied on cuts, earaches and inflammation. Its alkaloids and flavonoids are proved to have tranquillizing and antispasmodic effects in laboratory animals.
As a non-addictive sedative, it depresses the nerves of the spinal cord reducing blood pressure.
This herb is highly appreciated worldwide for its calming, sleep inducing and relieving effects. According to a clinical study, adding a teaspoon of dried passion flower in tea can improve the quality of sleep. Its extract (fresh or dried) is also used as a medicine for those who suffer from anxiety.
However, everyone should bear in mind that Passionflower may interact with medications, as well as cause unwanted side effects when interacting with other herbs. As a result, it would be wise to avoid taking Passionflower during pregnancy or breastfeeding and follow the instructions of a health care provider. Moreover, further research has to be conducted in order to examine the exact indications of its effectiveness, its contraindications, interactions, side effects and toxicities.
Passionflower’s leaves and stamens are used for medicinal purposes, in the form of infusions, teas, liquid extracts and tinctures. When it comes to cooking, except for its common use, Passionflower is used for jam and jellies. In addition, its chilled juice, added in sorbet, gravitas or ice-creams will keep you cool on a hot summer’s day.
By Rena P.