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. This, and other passionflowers are the exclusive larval host plants for the gulf fritillary and non-exclusive for the variegated fritillary butterflies.
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.
Traditionally, the fresh or dried whole plant has been used as a herbal medicine to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia. A small clinical study suggested that in the form of a tea it may improve the subjective quality of sleep. 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 albeit no sedative qualities have been noted, nor medical benefits beyond placebo.
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, and still is a favorite of Cajuns, as evidenced by their name for the plant: liane de grenade, or "pomegranate vine".
- "State Symbols". Tennessee Government. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
- 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.
- Plants For A Future: Passiflora incarnata
- 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.
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.
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