Passiflora incarnata

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Passiflora incarnata
OQ Passion flower.jpg
Passiflora incarnata fruit.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Passifloraceae
Genus: Passiflora
Species: P. incarnata
Binomial name
Passiflora incarnata
Passiflora incarnata map.jpg

Passiflora incarnata, commonly known as maypop, purple passionflower, true passionflower, wild apricot, and wild passion vine, is a fast-growing perennial vine with climbing or trailing stems. A member of the passionflower genus Passiflora, the maypop has large, intricate flowers with prominent styles and stamens. One of the hardiest species of passionflower, it is a common wildflower in the southern United States. The Cherokee in the Tennessee area called it ocoee; the Ocoee River and valley are named after this plant, which is the Tennessee State Wildflower.[1] This, and other passionflowers are the exclusive larval host plants for the Gulf Fritillary and non-exclusive for the Variegated Fritillary butterflies.[2]


Passiflora incarnata flower and bud

The stems can be smooth or pubescent; they are long and trailing, possessing many tendrils. Leaves are alternate and palmately 3-lobed and occasionally 5-lobed, measuring 6–15 centimetres (2.4–5.9 in). They have two characteristic glands at the base of the blade on the petiole. Flowers have five bluish-white petals. They exhibit a white and purple corona, a structure of fine appendages between the petals and stamens. The large flower is typically arranged in a ring above the petals and sepals. They are pollinated by insects such as bumblebees and carpenter bees, and are self-sterile. The flower normally blooms in July.

The fleshy fruit, also referred to as a maypop, is an oval yellowish berry about the size of a hen egg; it is green at first, but then becomes orange as it matures. As with other passifloras, it is the larval food of a number of butterfly species, including the zebra longwing and Gulf fritillary. In many cases its fruit is very popular with wildlife.

The maypop occurs in thickets, disturbed areas, near riverbanks, and near unmowed pastures, roadsides, and railroads. It thrives in areas with lots of available sunlight. It is not found in shady areas beneath a forest canopy.

Passiflora incarnata August 2014 U.K

Medicinal use[edit]

Traditionally, the fresh or dried whole plant has been used as a herbal medicine to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia.[3] A small clinical study suggested that in the form of a tea it may improve the subjective quality of sleep.[4] The dried, ground herb is frequently used in Europe by drinking a teaspoon of it in tea. A sedative chewing gum has even been produced. In a small study, an extract of passion flower showed effectiveness in relieving dental anxiety in patients undergoing periodontal treatment.[5][non-primary source needed]

Culinary use[edit]

In cooking, the fruit of this variety is sometimes used for jam and jellies or as a substitute for its commercially grown South American relative Passiflora edulis – the fruit is of comparable size and juice yield, hence chilled maypop juice is a delicious treat in hot summer weather. The fruit can be eaten out of hand and historically it was a favorite of colonial settlers of the South and Native Americans alike. Today it is a very common plant growing in gardens in the American Southeast and parts of the Mid-Atlantic for this purpose as well as its showy violet flowers,[6] and still is a favorite of Cajuns, as evidenced by their name for the plant: liane de grenade, or "pomegranate vine".

Modern research[edit]

According to several studies conducted by Kamaldeep Dhawan et al., the methanol extract of P. incarnata demonstrates anxiolytic properties in the elevated plus-maze model of anxiety in mice. At a dosage of 10 mg/kg of the purified methanol extract, the anxiolytic effects were comparable to a 2 mg/kg of diazepam. The active constituent of this extract was identified by these researchers as a benzoflavone.[7]

This putative benzoflavone moiety was also shown to significantly reduce symptoms of withdrawal from, and addiction and dependence of benzodiazepines,[8] alcohol,[9] morphine,[10] nicotine[11] and cannabis[12] (specifically tetrahydrocannabinol, THC).

This unknown benzoflavone phytochemical was also shown to display antitussive properties against sulfur dioxide–induced coughing,[13] and has shown some anti-asthmatic activity.[14]

However, an attempt to determine the structure of the benzoflavone responsible for the effects reported by Dhawan was unable to isolate any such benzoflavone compound.[15]


  1. ^ "State Symbols". Tennessee Government. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ Horn, compiled and edited by Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart ; technical editor: Thomas E. Hemmerly ; photo editors: David Duhl and Dennis (2005). Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley, and the Southern Appalachians : the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society. [Edmonton]: Lone Pine Pub. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-55105-428-5. 
  3. ^ Plants For A Future: Passiflora incarnata
  4. ^ A. Ngan & R. Conduit (2011). "A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality". Phytotherapy Research 25 (8): 1153–1159. doi:10.1002/ptr.3400. PMID 21294203. 
  5. ^ Kaviani, N;; Tavakoli, M;; Tabanmehr, Mr;; Havaei, Ra (June 2013). "The Efficacy of Passiflora Incarnata Linnaeus in Reducing Dental Anxiety in Patients Undergoing Periodontal Treatment". Journal of Dentistry 14 (2): 68–72. PMID 24724122. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Kamaldeep Dhawan, Suresh Kumar, Anupam Sharma (2001). "Anti-anxiety studies on extracts of Passiflora incarnata Linneaus [sic]". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 78 (2–3): 165–170. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(01)00339-7. PMID 11694362. 
  8. ^ Kamaldeep Dhawan, Sanju Dhawan & Sumit Chhabra (2004). "Attenuation of benzodiazepine dependence in mice by a tri-substituted benzoflavone moiety of Passiflora incarnata Linneaus [sic]: a non-habit forming anxiolytic" (PDF). Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 6 (2): 215–222. PMID 12935433. 
  9. ^ Kamaldeep Dhawan, Suresh Kumar & Anupam Sharma (2002). "Suppression of alcohol-cessation-oriented hyper-anxiety by the benzoflavone moiety of Passiflora incarnata Linneaus [sic] in mice". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 81 (2): 239–244. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(02)00086-7. PMID 12065157. 
  10. ^ Kamaldeep Dhawan, Suresh Kumar and Anupam Sharma (2002). "Reversal of morphine tolerance and dependence by Passiflora incarnata – a traditional medicine to combat morphine addiction". Pharmaceutical Biology 40 (8): 576–580. doi:10.1076/phbi.40.8.576.14660. 
  11. ^ Kamaldeep Dhawan, Suresh Kumar & Anupam Sharma (2002). "Nicotine reversal effects of the benzoflavone moiety from Passiflora incarnata Linneaus [sic] in mice". Addiction Biology 7 (4): 435–441. doi:10.1080/1355621021000006044. PMID 14578021. 
  12. ^ Kamaldeep Dhawan, Suresh Kumar & Anupam Sharma (2002). "Reversal of cannabinoids (Δ9-THC) by the benzoflavone moiety from methanol extract of Passiflora incarnata Linneaus [sic] in mice: a possible therapy for cannabinoid addiction". Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 54 (6): 875–881. doi:10.1211/0022357021779069. PMID 12079005. 
  13. ^ Kamaldeep Dhawan & Anupam Sharma (2002). "Antitussive activity of the methanol extract of Passiflora incarnata leaves". Fitoterapia 73 (5): 397–399. doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(02)00116-8. PMID 12165335. 
  14. ^ Kamaldeep Dhawan, Suresh Kumar & Anupam Sharma (2003). "Antiasthmatic activity of the methanol extract of leaves of Passiflora incarnata". Phytotherapy Research 17 (7): 821–822. doi:10.1002/ptr.1151. PMID 12916087. 
  15. ^ Holbik M et al. (2010). "Apparently no sedative benzoflavone moiety in passiflorae herba.". Planta Medica 76 (7): 662–664. doi:10.1055/s-0029-1241015. 

Further Reading[edit]

Miroddi, M.; Calapai, G.; Navarra, M.; Minciullo, P.L.; Gangemi, S. (December 2013). "Passiflora incarnata L.: Ethnopharmacology, clinical application, safety and evaluation of clinical trials". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 150 (3): 791-804. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.09.047. 

External links[edit]