top of page
10 (3).png

These plants, funghi and insect illustrations
are part of my botanical oracle deck

Passiflora incarnata | Passionflower

Botanical Overview of Passionflower

  • Scientific Name: Passiflora incarnata

  • Common Names: Passionflower, Maypop, Apricot Vine, Wild Passion Vine, Passion Vine

  • Family: Passifloraceae

  • Description: Passionflower is a perennial, climbing vine known for its striking, intricate flowers. The flowers are large, typically 5-7 cm in diameter, with a unique structure that includes a central column of fused stamens and pistils surrounded by five sepals and five petals, often accompanied by a fringe of corona filaments. The petals and sepals are usually white or pale lavender, while the corona can vary in color, often purple or blue. The plant produces egg-shaped fruits known as maypops, which turn yellow or orange as they ripen. The vine has deeply lobed leaves and tendrils that allow it to climb and spread.

passiflora incarnata botanical illustration

Properties of Passionflower

  • Chemical Constituents: Contains flavonoids, alkaloids (such as harman and harmaline), and glycosides. The primary active compounds include vitexin, isovitexin, and various maltol derivatives, which contribute to its sedative and anxiolytic effects.

  • Edibility: The fruit of Passiflora incarnata, commonly known as maypop, is edible. When ripe, it can be eaten raw or used in jellies, jams, and beverages. The leaves and flowers are not typically consumed raw but are used to prepare herbal teas and extracts.

Distribution and Habitat of Passionflower

  • Native Range: Southeastern United States.

  • Preferred Habitat: Passionflower thrives in well-drained, sandy soils and prefers full sun to partial shade. It is commonly found in open fields, along roadsides, forest edges, and in disturbed areas. The vine is highly adaptable and can grow in a variety of soil types, though it prefers regions with warm climates and adequate rainfall.

Medicinal Properties and Uses of Passionflower

  • Traditional Uses: Traditionally, Native American tribes used passionflower as a sedative and to treat conditions like insomnia, anxiety, and nervous disorders. It was also employed as an analgesic for pain relief and as a remedy for digestive issues. The plant was used in poultices to treat wounds, bruises, and inflamed skin conditions.

  • Modern Applications: Today, passionflower is widely used in herbal medicine for its calming and sedative properties. It is commonly used to alleviate anxiety, promote restful sleep, and reduce symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Passionflower extract is also used to treat nervousness, agitation, and stress-related conditions. In addition to its mental health benefits, passionflower has been found to have anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects, making it useful in treating conditions such as muscle spasms, menstrual pain, and gastrointestinal issues. The plant is often consumed as a tea, tincture, or in supplement form.

Magical Correspondences and Uses in Magical Practice of Passionflower

  • Element: Water

  • Planet: Venus

  • Magical Properties: Peace, sleep, friendship, and spiritual growth.

  • Uses: In magical practices, passionflower is revered for its ability to promote peace and tranquility. It is often used in rituals and spells to calm the mind and spirit, making it an ideal herb for meditation and stress relief. Placing passionflower under a pillow or in a sachet near the bed can help induce restful sleep and protect against nightmares. The plant is also associated with fostering friendship and harmony, making it a popular choice for spells aimed at strengthening relationships or easing conflicts. Additionally, passionflower’s connections to spiritual growth and enlightenment make it a powerful aid in rituals focused on personal development and exploring higher consciousness. Burning passionflower as incense or using it in baths can enhance spiritual awareness and facilitate deeper connections with the divine.

Folklore, Legends, and Mythology of Passionflower

  • Historical Context: Passionflower has a rich history rooted in both indigenous and colonial cultures. The name “passionflower” was given by Spanish missionaries in South America who saw the flower’s unique structure as a representation of the Passion of Christ. The various parts of the flower were interpreted to symbolize elements of the Crucifixion, such as the crown of thorns and the wounds of Christ. This religious significance helped the plant gain prominence in European culture.

  • Folklore: In folklore, passionflower is often seen as a symbol of spiritual devotion and divine passion. It was believed to bring peace and serenity to those who cultivated it. The plant was also associated with love and friendship, thought to strengthen bonds and promote understanding between individuals. In some cultures, passionflower was used as a protective amulet against negative energies and as a charm to attract positive influences.

  • Mythology: While not extensively featured in classical mythology, passionflower’s intricate and symbolic appearance has led to its association with various themes of sacrifice, redemption, and divine love. The missionary interpretation of its flower parts as symbols of the Passion of Christ underscores its connection to themes of suffering and salvation. In modern spiritual practices, passionflower is sometimes linked to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, reflecting its associations with harmony, peace, and personal growth.

Historical Literary Sources

  • "Flora’s Lexicon" by Catharine H. Waterman (1854): Explores the symbolic meanings of passionflower in the context of the Victorian language of flowers, highlighting its associations with peace and spiritual devotion.

  • "The Herball or General Historie of Plantes" by John Gerard (1597): Provides early descriptions of passionflower, noting its discovery by European explorers and its medicinal uses.

  • "A Modern Herbal" by Maud Grieve (1931): Discusses the traditional and contemporary medicinal applications of passionflower, reflecting its enduring role in herbal medicine.


bottom of page