Passionflower, passionflower, passionflower, O, the desires that are wrapped up in thee. She is the love of every truly beloved.
My Lady Miss Passionflower, one can see the beautifully ‘pulchritudinous’ character in you. (Now I would like to hear you say that word ten times real fast.) Beauty is found everywhere, and in the sight of the passionflower, this is so true, with so many varieties in so many places her beauty is spread so wide and free.
Passionflower, a native of the central and south Americas and the south east of the United States, was a food for the Incas, Aztecs and many other native tribal peoples of that region of the world for thousands of years, it must have been an inspiration to celebrate colour in their lives and in their dress. Beautiful and flowing, unashamed to bloom and shine with real presents, even the fruit has intense flavour, colour and aromas, this is a plant that is alive in everyway.
The Cherokee indians have been using passion flower for thousands of years both for culinary and medicinal purposes. Called “ocoee” by the Cherokee indians, eventually gave the name to the river and valley also by the same name.
Passiflora or Flos passionis – Passionflower – Passiflora incarnata, has a long history of use, as long as people have been in the Americas there has been some connection with passionflower, from the moment they viewed the flower and tasted its fruit, humans must have been captivated with this plant.
When the Conquistadors arrived with Priests of Rome, they also discovered this wonderful plant and gave and influenced its modern name, and due to their strong Roman Catholic beliefs named it from the Crucifixion and Passion of Christ. Historian and churchman, Giacomo Bosia gave the flower itself its religious interpretation in 1609 AD. The Spanish of that time called it the “La Flor de las cinco Llagas” meaning, “The flower with the five wounds” pointing to the wounds during Christ’s Crucifixion.
Locals in that region I believe still call it by that name today, I wonder what was the first peoples name for it, and why?
Although I see nothing wrong with naming the flower ‘passionflower’, I do really like the lesser known name “Sweet cup”, how about you, can you think of another name? Another name given to this plant is “maypop”, apparently and logically this is due to the result of stepping on the round egg-shaped fruit and it ‘may pop’. Others have applied this to mean at what month it comes out, that is the month of May in the northern hemisphere.
Brought to Europe during the eighteenth century has now been developed into many varieties and has spread around the world. It became popular in the Victorian era, but lost some of its notoriety, but is now gaining its proper status, in these recent times.
In Australia, there is a plant that is called Wild or Bush Passionfruit, passiflora foetida, it is not native to Australia, but is edible and quite tasty. Don’t eat the green fruit, you must wait until the fruit turn yellow. In some places, especially in the northern half of Australia and it is becoming quite invasive and damaging to native flora.
How to use Passionflower/passionfruit
Usually when speaking about culinary uses we tend to use ‘passionfruit’ not passionflower. Passionfruit has many uses, and the best known are the culinary uses, such as drinks and beverages of all sorts, for example, a fruit punch or smoothies, and the most popular would be desserts, and here in Australia it looks fantastic on Pavlova or cheese cake. Other sweet combinations can be with ice cream, tarts, meringues, jellies, cake, creams, cheese such as ricotta, curds, trifles, souffles, and slices, just to name a few, if you not feeling hungry already.
But apart from starring in many fantastic sweet dishes, it can be used in breads and buns, on salads, both fruit and leaf salads, and in sauces and butters, on meats such as prawns and fish, (oh I’m melting) also in your breakfasts with banana and berries, with vegetables such as carrots and sweet potato.
Passionflower’s main action is a nerve relaxant or a mild sedative, therefore it has a natural relaxing affect, and helps to reduce anxiety issues and sleeplessness, that is encouraging better sleep. This can help a person just by having a cup of herbal passionflower tea, which is very easy to make.
- Put 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried flower and leaf into a cup
- Pour in boiling hot water
- Allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes
- Add a little sweetener if needed
You can have 2 – 3 cups per day. Also you can mix passionflower with other herbs to alter the flavour or make stronger, examples of this could be ginger, chamomile, oats, hops or lemon balm.
Don’t use or make stronger if you are operating dangerous equipment.
It is advised not to take passionflower tea therapeutically if you are pregnant. I am not aware of any harm due to eating the fruit plup or seed, unless you have diverticula.
Passionflower seed carrier oil
This oil can be used in several different ways, one, it is a light non-greasy oil that can be used in aromatherapy or in the bath, and for a smooth massage oil. You can easily thicken the oil if needed with another carrier oil once you have added your prefered drops of essential oils. Passionflower carrier oil can be use in various skin creams and even hair products due to its light non-greasiness or simply apply it directly to your skin as is.
You can get a fragranced passionflower oil that is oil soluble (now that sounds odd), which can be used in soaps, shampoos and conditioners, plus lotions, cologne and used in potpourri and in candle making. If you wanted to improve the smell of your kerosene lantern, just add a 1 teaspoon to 240mls / 8oz of kerosene.
From a gardening point of view, it is a great way of growing your own fruit for desserts and making all those incredible recipes, but it also can be used as a screen, to keep out prying eyes and neighbour’s noses, also it can make a wind block to protect from constant blowing, it can be used as a sun shield, protecting that hot and sunny side of the house or to cool a pond or over a Barbeque pergola. Since it can be a prolific producer, it can be an income too, or trade the fruit or cuttings for new plants with your neighbours for something else you may want.
How to grow Passionflower
Generally, passionflower is an easy thing to grow and if living in a wonderful position that it loves, frankly it can start to take over the thing it is growing on, and will definitly need trimming back. Passionflower prefers well draining loamy soils in a sunny position or some shade. Passionflower needs something to climb on such as a fence or trellis, climbing via its tendrils. It is a perennial with three lobe leaves 8 to 12 cm / 3 1/4″ to 4 3/4″ long. Most varieties require a warm climate except for a few such as banana passionfruit. One of its largest varieties is called Granadilla that grows a fruit the size of a football, and the corky passionfruit that grows the size of a pea.
Passionflower can grow from seed, but it can be slow and erratic at times and can take up to 18 months to two years to flower and then produce fruit shortly after. Planting should be done approximately in the spring to early summer and if you cannot plant the seed just yet, then keep the seeds dry and in an airtight container.
- Collect your seed from some fruit that you have recently eaten as the fresher the seed the better.
- Clean away any pulp
- Fill a 10cm wide container with good seed raising mix
- Moisten the seed raising mix
- Place one to two seeds into 3 – 1cm deep holes and cover
- Water in preferably with a seaweed type fertilser
- If you are in cold climates keep the pot/s in a warm glass or hot house
- Or put them into a foam/polystyrene box and cover over with a glass sheet
- Do not put them direct sunlight
- Keep the soil moist with a mist until seed germinates
- Water gently with a fine spray fitting once seedlings are coming up
- At a height of 5cm /2″ use a liquid plant fertiliser again
- Repeat every two weeks with the fertiliser
- Once the plants are 10cm /4″ high transplant into 15 to 20cm / 6″ to 8″pots
- Water in well and firm around the plant
- Supply a support of some form to allow the plant to grow on
- At six weeks either plant into a much larger pot or into the garden
Often cuttings are the easiest and quickest way to propagate, but things are differnet with passionflower vines, and only seem to be slower, but this may be due to other factors and you may be just fine, so still give it a go.
- Take the stem cuttings from the ‘softwood stage’
- Cut 10 to 15cm / 4″ to 6″ long cuttings just below the node
- Remove any leaves or tendrils at the bottom
- Dip the bottom end into rooting hormone, some use raw honey and some don’t bother (Experiment)
- Make up a mix of equal parts sand and peat
- Fill a 10cm / 4″ pot
- Make a hole in the mix with a stick
- Place the cutting in the hole and press firmly in
- Lightly water in
- Cover the pot, cutting and all with a clear plastic bag that has just a few holes in it
- Support the bag away from the cutting
- Keep them moist but not wet and in a shady position
- After about a month you should see new growth coming on
- Only Transplant when the roots are well developed
You also can propagate by layering and this is one by tying or anchoring the stem down to the ground with a little dirt covering, this acts the same as striking cuttings.
Passionflower can get several diseases, such as anthracnose, scab, septoriosis and alternaia spot, as well some more nasty ones such as fusarium wilt, crown rot and collar rot and viruses such as woodiness virus and cucumber mosaic virsus for example.
Some of the most common causes for disease are poor ventilation, over crowding, hot and rainy weather promoting fungal growth, plus poor hygenie of gardening tools and aphids and nematodes.
The time to harvest your passionflower is when your plant is mature and blooming. Cut off the amount you want to dry and store for use, tie them together with string but allow the air to get through and hang them up inside a sunny window.
Leave them there for two weeks until they are dry and brittle to touch.
Once your leaves are completely dry and break up easily to touch in your hand, untie the the stems and crush the leaves, flowers and stems with your fingers and place them in a sealed glass jar and label and date it. anything too big and hard just throw out.
The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.
Aerial parts: leaves, stems, flower and roots in a tea (though not so well known)
Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 1.5 – 2.5 grams
Anxiolytic, mild sedative, hypnotic, and spasmolytic
Maintenance and sleep onset, insomnia, anxiety, excitability, irritability, nervous tachycardia, tension headache, and palpitations, plus, Drug addition and abuse (generally needs additional herbs to go with), trigeminal neuralgia, spasmodic dysmenorrhoea, asthma, and epilepsy
Flavonoids – Flavone-C-glycosides – isovitexin, and derivatives, malt, isomalzol, Harman alkaloids – traces
No major problems found, but do not use during pregnancy without professional advice.
Adulterated with “white flower” species
Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.
Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda
“Passion is a fire that attracts, be wise with what you are attracted to, it must only burn away the dross, or you will suffer loss” —Herbal Panda