Passiflora (Passiflora incarnata L.) is a herbaceous vine, with bare, thin, poorly furrowed stems up to 9 meters long, with alternately arranged leaves. The leaves are deeply palmately divided, and the leaflets are ovate-lanceolate, finely serrated at the top. On the long leaf stalks, there are two nectary glands. The flowers are single, 3-8 cm in diameter, the petals are pale purple, and from their base grows a series of filamentous pink to purple corona members, so the petals appear of two types. Passiflora is native to the eastern and southern parts of North America, and is planted as an ornamental plant all over the world. The entire above-ground part of the plant is used.
Passiflora incarnata serves as a host plant for several butterfly species.
Passionflower’s floral arrangement is so unique that early Christian missionaries decided to capitalize on its distinctive morphology, and use it as an educational tool in describing Christ’s crucifixion. The name describes the passion of Christ and his disciples1.
The ripe fruits have a spongy partition, interesting in texture, which bears the ripe whitish yellow edible flesh surrounding the black hard seeds1.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to southern and central America, passion flower is now extensively cultivated in Europe.
Use for medicinal purposes
Passiflora incarnata L. has a history of traditional medicinal use. It is primarily known for its potential calming and sedative properties. It has sedative, antispasmodic and tranquillizing properties.
flavonoids (vitexin, apigenin)
cyanogenic glycosides (gynocardin)
Action and application
Parts used are leaves, stem, and flowers, harvest when the leaves are green and vital (herba cum flore).
Flavonoids, alkaloids, and coumarins are among the constituents identified in this plant. These compounds are believed to contribute to its pharmacological effects. A comprehensive review of the literature reveals Passiflora incarnata’s anxiolytic properties. Experimental studies have demonstrated its ability to modulate gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, leading to anxiolytic effects. This is consistent with traditional knowledge of the plant’s capacity to induce relaxation and reduce anxiety. Scientific studies have elucidated Passiflora incarnata’s role in improving sleep patterns. Its administration has been associated with an increase in total sleep time and a reduction in sleep latency. The observed effects align with its historical application in managing insomnia.
It has been shown to modulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which may underlie its calming effects. The plant’s potential to relax muscular tension has been substantiated. Experimental research suggests its efficacy in reducing muscle spasms, which complements its traditional use in this regard.
It’s available in various forms, such as teas, tinctures, and supplements, for these purposes.
SPECIES: Passiflora incarnata L.
purple passionflower, maypop, old field apricot
VI – IX month
2. Andrew Chevallier Mnihm: The encyclopedia of medicinal plants, Dorling Kindersley Limited, London, 1996. ISBN 0 7513 03143