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Passioflora incarnata L.

Passion Vine, Granadilla, Maracuja, Maypops

Yerba Santa
Passion Flower, almost looks from another world.


Part of the Passifloraceae family, there are many species in this family but most are only ornamental. Fast growing perennial vine with climbing and sprawling stems. Bears big and elaborate whit and purple flowers with fascinating geometries. Once pollenated fruit forms and ripens once it reaches a reddish/purple color, about the size of lemons. These fruits have a sweet and tangy juice with seeds inside. The vining plants leaves are strong and a vibrant green. The flowers themselves are steeped in history dating all the way back to the first European settlers. Its this purple color that gives away a lot of what we know about Passionflower and its energies, this herbs works wonders with the heart chakra. The physical parts of the body connected with the heart chakra are the heart, lungs, bronchial tubes, entire circulatory system and the immune system. Any dis-eases in these areas will arise out of the heart chakra being blocked in some way. The flower essence to treat the heart chakra is passion flower, opening the heart to the spiritual qualities of love (1.4).

Habitat and Propagation:

Passionflower best grows in zones 7-10. Purple passionflowers require direct sunlight for at least half of the day. The plants prefer fertile, well drained soils but will grow in heavier clay soils. Pick a spot in the garden where the plants may either climb or spread freely. The plants may be propagated from seed or by cuttings. Seeds should be collected in the fall after the fruit has begun to shrivel. Mature seeds are brown in color with no traces of white. Wash the gelatinous covering from the seeds if they are to be stored for any length of time. It is best to plant the seeds directly into an outdoor seedbed. The seedlings may be transplanted after they have three or four leaves or, once established, they can be used to provide cuttings or divisions. Cuttings should be taken in the early spring. Remove the lower leaves from a 15 to 20 cm cutting before placing it in the rooting medium. Removing the suckers that develop around the established plants provides materials for propagating by division. With a shovel, separate and remove the suckers and roots. Transplant the divisions and water them immediately.


Always practice sustainable and safe harvesting techniques. Trim older mature growth, harvest long stems of the herb while it's flowering (flower and all). Tie up to 6 long stems together and hang to dry till stem is brittle to the touch. Use your hands to break of the herb into or onto your harvesting area. If the pieces are too big try going back over it to break them up between your hands.


Alkaloids (harmine, harman, harmol, harmaline, harmalol, passaflorine): flavanoids (apigenin, homoorientin, isovetexin, kaempferol, luteolin, orientin, quercetin, rutin, saponaretin, saponarin, vitexen) (2.1).

Image Harman: One of the alkaloids found in most Passionflora (1.7).


Nervine, Hypnotic, Antispasmodic, Anodyne, Hypotensive


Passiflora is used for it's sedative and soothing properties and to lower blood pressure, prevent tachycardia, and relieve insomnia. It has a depressant effect on the central nervous system and acts as a hypotensive. The pharmacological actions of many of the flavonoids, such as apigenin, are well known, and include antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory effects. The alkaloids and flavonoids in passionflower have shown sedative activity in animals.

Passionflower is the herb of choice for intransigent insomnia. It eases the transition into restful sleep without causing any next-day hangover. It may be used whenever an antispasmodic is indicated (for example, for Parkinson's disease, seizures, or hysteria). It can be effective for nerve pain, such as neuralgia, and the viral infection of nerves called shingles. Passionflower may also be helpful for asthma associated with spasmodic activity and states of tension.


Standard Infusion: 4-8 ounces up to 4 times a day

Tincture: Fresh Leaf (1:2, 95% alcohol); dried leaf (1:5, 50% alcohol); 2-8 ml (0.4-1.6 tsp.) up to 4 times daily

Glycerite: Dried leaf (6:1); 3-10 ml (0.6-2 tsp) up to 4 times daily

Fluid Extract: Dried leaf (1:1, 50% alcohol); 1-3 ml (0.2-0.6 tsp.) up to 4 times daily (2.2)


Passionflower will potentiate the effects of sedative drugs. Theoretically, it is contradicted for people taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (2.1).

History and Folklore:

This vine acquired its current name from the Jesuit priests who sailed to the New World. They discovered in its signature the whole passion of their savior god. The three stamens resemble the nails used for the crucifixion, the petals are like the crown of thorns placed on Christ’s head, and the ten sepals represent the disciples minus the two, Judas and Peter, who betrayed and denied. Christ is the universal principle associated with the heart, and Christ Consciousness is heightened when this flower essence is used (1.4).

Personal Experience:

We grew a huge fence of passionflower, the photos above are from our old garden in San Diego. Just observing the plant in all ways showed some sort of intelligence. Even its flower's are some sort of higher intelligence at work. The flowers grow in tight little cocoons until it's time to POP, then you have these open almost alien looking beautiful flowers. It was always healthy, even when it was being munched on by many things (Monarch larvae mostly). Harvesting the fruit was best after it fell, it would be an amazing smell when cut open. Harvesting the herb was easy if you let it go a little the year before.

It is one of the original ingredients used in our Sleepy Time Tincture (coming soon). My main reason for using it is pretty obvious and the muscle relaxant and helping breach the barrier to sleep. Not mentioned above is that it helps balance the Valerian Nightmares that sometimes occur, and to better balance folks that may have a sensitivity to Valerian by getting anxious or more awake. I, personally, did have problems with Valerian taking me in the wrong direction pretty easily. After adding the passionflower I found exactly what I was looking for out of Valerian to begin with. Then we also put a few other herbs, sleep blends with Passionflower can help the body reach a better relaxed state for healing in general. We also put Passionflower in our I Am Blissed Tea Bath for it's relaxing properties. In general its a go to for a relaxing evening blend if I'm just throwing something together. It was much prettier when we we're able to dehydrate full flowers at a time, but the effects are all still the same!


Online Resources

Published Resources:

2.1 - Medical Herbalism The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine By David Hoffmann

2.2 - The Modern Herbal Dispensatory By Thomas Easley, Steven Horne

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