About Passion Flowers

Overview

The passion flower is scientifically known as Passiflora incarnata. It is the name of a genus that is comprised of 500 different flowering plant species. The passion flower is part of the Passifloraceae family, which consists of mostly vines, but also various shrubs and herbaceous plants. The passion flower is commonly used as a herbal remedy.

Geography

The passion flower originates in the Americas, with many species available throughout both North and South America. It is also widely cultivated throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The passion flower can be found on every continent except for Antarctica.

Characteristics

The passion flower is a perennial plant and climbing vine. It has a woody stem that is sturdy, and herbaceous shoots. The passion flower can grow to be up to 32 feet in height. Each flower is composed of five sepals as well as five petals. The petals are white. The sepals can be any color from blue to magenta.

Herbal Remedy

The passion flower has historically been used as a calming herb to treat various different afflictions, including insomnia, anxiety, hysteria and seizures. In the modern day, the flower is still commonly used for insomnia and anxiety treatment. The passion flower functions by raising the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a chemical within the brain. GABA decreases the activity of various brain cells, which induces relaxation.

Varieties

There are many different varieties of passion flowers in existence. Some of the more well-known cultivars include the Passiflora luzmarina, Passiflora ampullacea, Passiflora monadelpha, Passiflora lutea, Passiflora palenquensis, Passiflora brachyantha, Passiflora roseorum, Passiflora foetida, Passiflora linda, Passiflora trochlearis and Passiflora zamorana.

Side Effects

Although the passion flower is generally considered to be very safe, there are various possible side effects that could occur due to its use. These side effects include nausea, vomiting, fast heart rhythm, sedation, drowsiness and mental slowing. As a result, individuals taking passion flower should exercise caution when operating heavy machinery or driving.

Keywords: Passion flower, Passiflora, Passiflora incarnata

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.