The passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is a large woody vine that thrives in shade. The Jesuit priest who first discovered the vine named it 'passion flower' because the center the blossom resembled the crown of thorns worn by Christ during the Crucifixion. The flower dies back to produce a small orange fruit that contains a yellow pulp interior. The fruit contains numerous seeds but is sweet and edible. The plant has also been used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, epilepsy, anxiety disorders and dysmenorrhea (painful periods in women).
The passion flower is a common herbal supplement used to treat insomnia and nervousness. The herb works as a depressant and appears to affect the spinal cord. Arterial compression has been noticed when the herb is used. Dr. Siegward Elsas at Oregon Health And Science University Epilepsy Center in Portland, Oregon is currently conducting studies to see if the passion flower can prove useful in treating epilepsy. The flowers, leaves and stems are all dried to be used for medicinal purposes.
History Of The Passion Flower
In 1620 a Jesuit priest first discovered the passion flower in full bloom in Peru. The priest later had a vision concerning the flower. The flowers five petals and five sepals stood for the ten apostles. The vision omitted the apostles Judas and Peter. The flowers three pistils represented the nails used to crucify Christ, the purple corona was the thorns that adorned Christs head and the stemmed ovary of the blossom stood for the goblet used in the last supper.
The woody vine can easily grow 20 feet. The plant supports its long climbing vines with tendrils that wrap in a spiraling fashion to attach the vine to a surface and hold the plant in place. The plant requires at least four hours of bright sunlight and moist soil to thrive. It can be grown as a houseplant or a greenhouse specimen. The passion flower vine is tropical.
Fertilize the passion flower vine every two weeks in spring, summer and fall using a 20-20-20 fertilizer. Water the fertilizer completely into the soil. If the vine is being grown in a pot then keep the vine root bound for optimum flowering. The plant should be re-potted every two years in the early spring. The passion flower should be pruned in the early spring down to only six inches in height to encourage more flowering and growth.
The passion flower vine should be propagated by stem cuttings that are taken in the late spring or early summer. Stem cutting should measure no more then three to four inches in length. The stem cutting should be cut below one leaf. The stem cutting should be started in a moist peat moss and sand mixture. The stem cuttings should then be covered with a plastic bag and placed in a bright window. Stem cuttings will normally take root within three to four weeks.