Chestnut Herbal School

Passionflower: Ecology, Cultivation, Botany, and Medicinal and Edible Uses

Written and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor

Passiflora incarnata, Passifloraceae

If you have been following my blog or studied with me, you know I am interested in plant relationships in all their various forms, and not just plant/human relationships. Often when I am teaching, a student will interrupt my ramblings on ecology, botany, or cultivation to ask the proverbial “But what is it used for?” This cut-to the-chase question somehow smells of skipping romantic courtship. Granted, it is human nature to wonder how we might utilize a plant for medicine, food, fiber, clothing, art, etc. Our survival has always depended on this innate practical curiosity.

Passionflower is ecologically intriguing, drop-dead gorgeous, and an incredibly useful herbal medicine and wild edible. So I introduce this passionflower materia medica with some ecological, botanical, and cultivation snippets specific to this amazingly charismatic native vine, and hope that you wont skip this juiciness for the medicinal information.


Many plants produce extrafloral nectaries (nectar-producing glands located outside of the flower) on leaves, petioles, flower buds, bracts, and stems. The plants attract the ants with their sugary exudate, and the ants return the favor by protecting the plant from insects and other animals, that would otherwise eat it. (See the photos below of ants feeding on the extrafloral nectary of a peony flower bud.)

Ants on a peony flower bud feeding off the extra-floral nectaries

This plant-ant mutualism is so important to certain species of plants that their survival is contingent on the presence of their little bodyguards. Some ants even go so far as to girdle the twigs of neighboring plants that might otherwise outcompete their plant friend. Passionflower produces extrafloral nectaries at the base of the leaf, on the very top of the petiole (leaf stalk), and at the base of the flower, on the little green bracts (leaf-like appendages below a flower or group of flowers) below the petals (pictured below is an ant feeding off the extra-floral nectaries on the bracts below the flower bud). If you spend enough time with the plant you will see the ants crawling over the plant and pausing periodically to feed at the nectaries.

Ant sipping nectar at an extra-floral nectary on the bract of a passionflower bud

Ant sipping nectar at an extrafloral nectary on the bract of a passionflower bud

Passionflower leaves (Passiflora spp.) are the only food source for gulf fritillary caterpillars (Agraulis vanillae, Nymphalidae). Other butterfly larvae also feed on passionflower leaves, in the photo below is the variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia, Nymphalidae). Pictured below is the mature gulf fritillary butterfly nectaring on the flowers of matrimony vine (Lycium carolinianum, Solanceae) in Florida.

Variegated fritillary caterpillar

Gulf fritillary butterfly nectaring on matrimony vine

We have fritillary caterpillars on our passionflower nursery plants every year; the presence of patchy half-devoured leaves doesn’t exactly increase their salability. The caterpillars are like coyotes in a watermelon patch, or raccoons in a field of ripe corn – they eat just a little from each leaf and move on to a new leaf. We collect the caterpillars and create a mini habitat for them, feeding them whole passionflower leaves, until they metamorphosize into butterflies.  We release the gorgeous fritillaries into the garden, which will likely lay eggs on our passionflower leaves and start the whole process anew. Why would I release them back into the garden and let them eat my passionflower vines again? The fritillary butterflies have graced the skies of this beautiful country long before my ancestors ever stepped foot on this continent, and I am no killer of exquisitely colored native butterflies-to-be.

Adding another twist to the insect dance of passionflower, the ants will eat or pick off  butterfly eggs and dump the wee caterpillars overboard. I have noticed in my own garden that caterpillars do not eat up the vines supporting a healthy population of ants.

Passionflower medicinal leaves


Passionflower is very easy to grow, in fact in can be quite rambunctious if consumption does not outpace its exuberance. The vine is cold hardy to zone 6 (zone 5 in sheltered locales), and needs a trellis, wall, fence, or plant to climb up to reach its full glory. It often thrives for several years sending up new shoots far from the parent vine with its copious runners, and then the whole colony will up and die. Its disappearance is not related to the coldness of the winter, it appears to be a short-lived perennial, or perhaps very sensitive to mean looks. Passionflower prefers full sun and is relatively drought tolerant, but will flower in part shade, albeit more demurely. Last year we grew gotu kola (Centella asiatica, Apiaceae) and jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum, Curcubitaceae) in the shade created by a tee-pee bamboo trellis covered by a passionflower vine. For more on germinating passionflower seeds, see my article, Passionflower, from seed to fruit and back again.


Passionflower’s floral arrangement is so unique that early Christian missionaries decided to capitalize on its distinctive morphology, and use it as an educational tool in describing Christ’s crucifixion. The name describes the passion of Christ and his disciples, although in addition, it does excite passion in laboratory mice, who have demonstrated increased mounting of non-estrus females. {vi} But alas, we digress from botany. The flowers have the standard sepals and petals; additionally they have a third floral whorl, the corona. Passionflower’s corona resembles purple and white striped threads, which vary depending on the variety or cultivar. As the flower opens these corona threads emerge in a beautiful crimped pattern (as seen in many of the photos in this article).

Passionflower corona close-up

Above the corona rises the androgynophore (translates to male-female-bearing), which is the shared female and male reproductive structure. Rising above the short stalk, there are the five stamens (male, bearing pollen). Above the stamens rests the pistil, which is the female part of the flower; the pistil is comprised of three parts: the ovary, resembling a green ball, giving rise to the three styles and stigmas (female).

Passionflower has an interesting floral reproductive strategy: on any given plant, some flowers will be functionally bisexual (with fertile male and female parts), and some plants will be functionally male (with both male and female parts present, but only the male is functioning reproductively).[i] The term for this strategy of bearing both bisexual flowers and male flowers on the same plant is andromonoecy. The functionally bisexual flowers have styles, which recurve, bending down close to the stamens, so the pollinator can easily brush up against both the stamen and the stigma as it nestles its way into the nectar, produced at the base of the corona. (See the picture below for a view of passionflower pollination in action in a functionally bisexual flower. Those with prudish or tender constitutions may want to scroll quickly past this photo, as it is a tad racy.)

Many other plants have this built in reproductive flexibility, thus having the ability to decrease fruit production by having fewer bisexual flowers, and more male-only flowers, that can pollinate but not set fruit, when resources are lean. Passionflower has the added bonus of being able to spread vegetatively through its bountiful runners, and thus skip or reduce the more expensive sexual reproduction when appropriate. I bet many humans wish they had this kind of reproductive flexibility!

Edible Fruit

Passionflower is also called maypop, the origin of the name is often attributed to children’s proclivity for jumping on the hollow fruits for the simple joy of hearing them “pop”. Daniel Austin demystifies this common etymological misconception in Florida Ethnobotany: “The names maricock and maracocks gave rise to maracoc, maycock, maypop (Alabama, North Carolina), mollypop (Alabama, North Carolina) ……All of these names are supposedly derived from mahcawq (Powhatan), akin to machkak (Menomini)…”[ii]

Immature fruit of passionflower

The ripe fruits have a spongy partition, interesting in texture, which bears the ripe whitish yellow edible flesh surrounding the black hard seeds. I pop open the fruits when they are starting to turn yellow and begin to wrinkle, and slurp up the seedy flesh. I prefer to chew up the crunchy edible seeds, but some folks opt to spit them out. The fruit has been eaten and perhaps cultivated by Native Americans as evidenced by historical accounts and the presence of seeds in many archeological sites. One historical account from 1612 stated, “… yt is a good Sommer Cooling fruict, and in every field where the indigenous people plant their Corne be Cart-loades of them.” [iii]

It is likely that Native people encouraged this native weedy vine in their corn/bean/squash patches typical of traditional polyculture farming methods (growing different species of plants together, and allowing/encouraging weedy edibles to fill in bare patches).

Passiflora incarnata edible fruit (not quite ripe for eating)

The taste is sour/sweet, with the unripe fruits being decidedly sourer. The passion fruit of commerce is the closely related Passiflora edulis, native to South America, now grown throughout the tropics for its tasty fresh fruit and juice.

Medicinal Uses

Common Name: Passionflower, maypop, old field apricot

Scientific name:

  • Passiflora incarnata – official species. Native vine to the southeastern US, growing west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma, and north to southern Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Passionflower grows south throughout all of Florida.

Distribution of species by US County/State Note: caution using other Passionflower species, as not all have been used traditionally and some may be toxic.

Family: Passifloraceae

Cultivated/Wildcrafted: Passionflower is abundant throughout an extensive range, so it’s not under threat as a species. Although, in the peripheries of its range, it may be only sporadically found. At the time of this writing, most of the major herbal distributors in the U.S. are selling organically grown herb from Italy, which is surprising considering its abundance and ease of cultivation in the southeastern U.S.

Part used:  Leaves, stem, and flowers, harvest when the leaves are green and vital

Preparation & Dosage:               

Tincture: 1:2 95% fresh herb

1:5 50 % freshly dried herb

Both preparations: 2-4 droppers full up to three times/day

Tea: .5 to 2 grams of herb per cup of water as an infusion up to 3  times/day

Passionflower vine


  • hypnotic (sleep-aid)
  • analgesic (pain-reliever)
  • hypotensive (lowers blood pressure)
  • nervine
  • anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
  • anti-spasmodic
  • antidepressant

Energetics: slightly cooling and drying, mildly bitter

Traditional Uses: The Cherokee use the roots as a poultice to draw out inflammation in thorn wounds; tea of the root in the ear for earache; and tea of the root to wean infants. [iv] The Houma people infuse the roots as a blood tonic. ii    

It is interesting to note that contemporary herbalists use primarily the leaves, stems and flowers, whereas the ethnobotanical literature cites medicinal use of the roots only. In discussing its inclusion into the Eclectic material medica, Felter and Lloyd state in King’s American Dispensatory: [v]

Passiflora was introduced into medicine in 1839 or 1840 by Dr. L. Phares, of Mississippi, who, in the New Orleans Medical Journal, records some trials of the drug made by Dr. W. B. Lindsay, of Bayou Gros Tete, La. The use of the remedy has been revived within recent years, Prof. I. J. M. Goss, M. D., of Georgia, having introduced it into Eclectic practice. Prof. Goss, who introduced it to the Eclectic profession, employed the root and its preparations. We know of physicians who prefer the tincture of the leaves, and others still, who desire the root with a few inches of the stem attached.

Indications/Usages:[vi] [vii]

Nervous system/antispasmodic: insomnia, anxiety, anxietous depression, hypersensitivity to pain, headaches, agitation, transitioning from addictions, tics, hiccoughs, overstimulation, nervine tonic in preventing outbreaks of the herpes simplex virus, stress-induced hypertension, and menstrual cramps. The mandala-like flower demonstrates the powerful signature of its use in circular thinking, especially during insomnia; passionflower is especially suited for folks who have a hard time letting things go, mulling them over incessantly in a repetitive manner.

Children: insomnia; trouble sleeping through the night; teething; colic; adjunct treatment in asthma; especially with panic around asthma attacks; whooping cough.  See the notes below on calculating dosages for children.

Pregnancy: [viii] [ix] headache and pain, in general; prevention of herpes outbreak; hypertension; help with insomnia and exhaustion in postpartum depression; insomnia and anxiety. Please see the notes in the contra-indications section regarding passionflower’s safety in pregnancy.

Eclectic specific indications and uses: [v] irritation of brain and nervous system with atony; sleeplessness from overwork, worry, or from febrile excitement, and in the young and aged; neuralgic pains with debility; exhaustion from cerebral fullness, or from excitement; convulsive movements; infantile nervous irritation; nervous headache; tetanus; hysteria; oppressed breathing; cardiac palpitation from excitement or shock.

Michael Moorisms: [x] Cardiovascular excess in mesomorphs, sthenic middle-aged women; complementary with Crataegus, lowers diastolic pressure; PMS depression, PMS with insomnia; insomnia in sthenic individuals; and headache in hypertensive states with tinnitus.

Personal experience: I use passionflower, primarily in tincture form, for insomnia, especially with circular thinking. The person is lying in bed mulling over an unpleasant situation in their life or something they said that day, and they just can’t let it go. It is beneficial in both sleep onset and sleep maintenance insomnia. I often combine it with valerian and/or skullcap, and less frequently, hops.

Passionflower is one of the herbs I use commonly for dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps), often in combination with motherwort, black cohosh, and kava kava. Many people find relief with passionflower for cranky PMS moments.

Considered safe for children, it is beneficial internally to take the edge off teething, and to help children relax when they are climbing up the walls. Many parents use it to help children who wake frequently throughout the night sleep more soundly. As one of our safer anti-anxiety herbs, it can be helpful in treating children’s acute or chronic anxiety, and also to help them deal with an acutely traumatic or stressful situation.

Passionflower is one of my favored remedies for acute musculoskeletal pain; I use it in combination with meadowsweet, black birch, and skullcap for muscle strains, sprains and joint inflammation in general.

Passionflower medicine

Contraindications/ Side effects: [x] bradycardia; hypotension; concurrent use of pharmaceutical sedatives.

According to Mills and Bone[xi], passionflower is in the following category of herbs:

Drugs that have been taken by only a limited number of pregnant women and women of childbearing age*, without an increase in the frequency of malformation or other direct or indirect harmful effects on the human fetus having been observed. Studies in animals have not shown evidence of an increased occurrence of fetal damage.

*Chestnut Note: Not all pregnant people are women.

In the American Herbal Products Association Botanical Safety Book[xii], Passionflower is not contra-indicated in pregnancy or lactation.

In Herbal Medicines, third edition {vi}, Barnes et al report no recorded drug/herb interactions, however a hydroalcoholic extract was reported to potentiate rhythmic rat spasms in isolated rat uterus, and based on these results, the author’s caution against using passionflower in pregnancy.

I am particularly conservative with herbal use in pregnancy, and believe that herbs should only been used when necessary and when there is a strong historical precedence. It is difficult to extrapolate from the ethnobotanical literature on passionflower’s use during pregnancy since little has been recorded on the herbs usage in general; contemporary use of the herb does not seem to match the recorded uses. That said, many contemporary herbalists and midwives recommend the herb’s use in pregnancy, and it is generally considered safe by most sources on botanical medicine safety. In addition, there are no adverse pregnancy events reported.

I also think intuition is a valuable tool in determining whether on not to use an herb in any situation (in combination with expert advice and research). Trust your body and trust your instincts if they tell you not to take an herb!

Determining dosage in children by weight:

To determine the child’s dosage by weight, you can assume that the adult dosage is for a 150-pound adult. Divide the child’s weight by 150. Take that number and multiply it by the recommended adult dosage. For example, if your child weighs 50 pounds, they will need one-third the recommended dose for a 150-pound adult. If the adult dosage is three droppers full of a tincture, they will need one third of that dose, which is one dropper full (1/3 of 3 droppers full). A 25-pound child would need one-sixth the adult dose, so they would receive one half of a dropper full (1/6 of 3 droppers full).

[i] Dai, C. and Galloway, L. F. (2012), Male flowers are better fathers than hermaphroditic flowers in andromonoecious Passiflora incarnata. New Phytologist, 193: 787-796.

[ii] Austin, Daniel. Florida Ethnobotany

[iii] Strachney, Wm. (1612) 1953. The Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania. London (Wright, L. B. and Freund, V., Eds. Reprinted by Hakluyt Society, London.)

[iv] Hamel, B. and Chiltoskey, Mary U. Cherokee Plants and their uses- a 400 year history

[v] Felter and Lloyd. King’s American Dispensatory

[vi] Barnes, Joanne, et al. Herbal Medicine, Third Edition

[vii] Hoffman, David. Medical Herbalism

[viii] Romm, Aviva Jill. The Natural Pregnancy Book – Herbs, Nutrition, and other Holistic Choices.

[ix] Romm, Aviva et al. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health

[x] Moore, Michael. Southwest School of Botanical Medicine, 2001. Author’s personal class notes

[xi] Mills, S. and Bone, K. The Essential guide to Herbal Safety

[xii] McGuffin, Michael et al. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook

Meet The Green Mastermind Behind Blog Castanea:

Juliet Blankespoor

JULIET BLANKESPOOR is the founder, primary instructor, and Creative Director of the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, an online school serving thousands of students from around the globe. She's a professional plant-human matchmaker and bonafide plant geek, with a degree in botany and over 30 years of experience teaching and writing about herbalism, medicine making, and organic herb cultivation. Juliet’s lifelong captivation with medicinal weeds and herb gardening has birthed many botanical enterprises over the decades, including an herbal nursery and a farm-to-apothecary herbal products business. 

These days, she channels her botanical obsession through her writing and photography in her online programs, on her personal blog Castanea, and in her new book, The Healing Garden: Cultivating and Handcrafting Herbal Remedies. Juliet and her family reside in a home overrun with houseplants and books in Asheville, North Carolina.

Interested in becoming a contributor?


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98 thoughts on “Passionflower – Ecology, Cultivation, Botany, and Medicinal and Edible Uses

    • Christine Borosh says:

      That is possible, but unlikely. If you already know that you’re allergic to passionflower fruit, you’ll want to be very cautious when it comes to working with the leaves.

  1. Thanks for your excellent article Juliet.. I have a rampant vine producing prolific flower and fruit … I planted last year. There is something special about passion fruit. Yes I have noticed lots of ants running up and down the stems and guessed that they are there for the nectar… however I didn’t think about the protection squad throwing butterfly eggs off the leaves. Cool! Best wishes to you from Auckland.

  2. Thank you for this very informative article. I have access to Passiflora caerulea, which I believe is not the “edible” passion flower, however would you say the medicinal constituents are still there? For stress/anxiety for example?

    • Melissa Quercia says:

      Good question, Dawn. ​The properties of Passiflora incarnata cannot be attributed to Passiflora caerulea. The article’s information is only applicable to Passiflora incarnata and cannot be generalized to other passion flower species, which may be toxic.

    • Cayetone, thank you for pointing this out. We try to always use the present tense when discussing Native uses of plants. I’ll review our blog on passionflower to find any past tense references and have those edited asap.

    • Not all pregnant people identify as (are) women. For example, trans and non-binary people can be pregnant. Noting this, we’re recognizing the diverse gender identities (or gender non-identities) within our community, and in the human experience.

      • Do you know of any studies or articles regarding what properties the fruit might have? I have been unable to find any via Google.

        I’m curious to know if eating the fruit helps with the circular thoughts, balances energetics, or other such benefits.

        • Good question! The vines, leaves, and flowers are the medicinal parts of passionflower used for circular thinking, anxiety, and insomnia. It’s not commonly thought that eating the fruit offers the same benefits and I’m not aware of any studies on it.

    • Sarah Sorci says:

      I’ve only used Passiflora incarnata medicinally, and I can’t speak to the safety or properties of other passionflower species. Here’s a note from this post: “Caution using other Passionflower species, as not all have been used traditionally and some may be toxic.” If you aren’t able to find info about traditional uses for P. caerulea, it may not be safe to use and/or medicinally potent.

  3. Brenda Wasko says:

    Hello! I ordered some Pasaflora Incarnata seeds. My question is, Does this passion flower need another variety of passion flower to cross pollinate to produce fruit? Or does it produce fruit on it’s own after 2 years? Thanks!

    • Sarah Sorci says:

      Great question! According to this article, Passiflora incarnata is “self-fertile. This means [it does] not need a partner plant to be pollinated and bear fruit – so it is totally fine if you only have one vine!” However, the flowers still need to be pollinated. The article linked above gives instructions for self-pollinating if there’s concern that pollinators aren’t visiting the plant.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this!!! I am following now to all the resources you have! I have a question. I am in Guatemala and i have a Passiflora Ligularis. Cannot find any information about the leaves on this variation. Would they be similar?

    • Sarah Sorci says:

      You’re very welcome, Maria! I only have experience with Passiflora incarnata and I can’t speak to the safety or properties of P. ligularis. Here’s a note from this post: “Caution using other Passionflower species, as not all have been used traditionally and some may be toxic.” If you can’t find information about this species’ traditional uses, it may not be safe or useful medicinally. A local herbalist may have more information for you on this plant.

  5. Wonderful article! I live in the desert and have 2 unknown species of passiflora given to me by my mother. I will somehow find out what they are. Out here they seem to grow ‘tougher’, but it is gratifying to watch the new shoots spring up from the roots in spite of the arid conditions. Such beautiful plants that climb the walls of my house and grab on to each other with their little tendrils. I love this. Thank you for sharing!

    • My Passion flower has finally bloomed, late November! I don’t know if this is normal or not? It is beautiful and I cannot wait to make medicine from it. But now I am concerned that I have the RIGHT one, the Passiflor Incarnata. I think I do? I have a picture of it. Also, When does it produce fruit? If i snip the flowers off to dry, isn’t that stunting any fruit production? I would post the picture of the one I’m growing it but I can’t seem to get it on here? It does look very similar to your pictures.

      • Christine Borosh says:

        Blooming in November does seem late for passionflower, but it all depends on where you live. Plants can bloom this late in more mild or tropical climates. Removing the flowers will limit the fruit production, but this late in the season fruit probably won’t have enough time to form (again, this depends on where you live). In addition, plants generally won’t produce fruit until at least their second year. If you purchased your passionflower from an ornamental plant nursery, then it might not be the medicinal variety. I’d suggest checking in with where you purchased it to confirm the species. If the plant is growing wild in your area, then find someone with superb botany skills to help you key out the plant to the correct species. It can be difficult to confirm a plant’s identity through photos alone and it is much more accurate to look at all of the identification characteristics of the plant in person. However, there is a Plant Identification group on Facebook that is a great resource: Of course, always make sure that you are 100% confident in your plant identification before using any plant for food or medicine.

        • Thank you for the resource. This group is so interesting! Waiting on new blooms for help in identification, so, probably won’t get any answers for a few months. I am not good with taking photos. I have a bad habit of laying cameras, phones, etc. down when I get distracted with a project.

  6. Hi Juliet,

    A farmer has offered me some Passion flower she grew but it’s called passiflora caerulea. Is this strain also useful to make medicine with? I would like to dry it for tea mostly.

    Thanks for sharing all your wisdom!

    • Christine Borosh says:

      We use Passiflora incarnata medicinally and that is the only species we’re discussing here. Other passionflower species like Passiflora caerulea cannot be used interchangeably in the same way for medicine. I hope you can find some Passiflora incarnata to work with! It is such wonderful medicine 🙂

  7. Thank you for the information, wow! The pictures are beautiful. 🙂

    I found a patch of passiflora incarnata on a lot we’re going to put a house on, but we’re not clearing it for another couple months, hooray! I was wondering if you might be able to tell me which pieces and parts I need to pick to dry. I initially thought it was only the corona (the spindly pieces), but after reading this and seeing a couple other articles I’m thinking I’m incorrect. It’s difficult to locate factual data and I was happy to have found this article! I’m also going to attempt to transplant as many of the vines as possible before we clear. We have an acre for me to populate and I can’t possibly let that all be destroyed without at least attempting to relocate it!

    I currently use it in dried form from other sources for arthritis, insomnia, and the big ugly one – pms! I picked about 15 flowers today and there were still many more remaining. My fingers still bear the scent, which is a lovely delicate sweet odor. 🙂 I’m afraid I only picked the corona off and they had an interesting interaction with the vodka – they’re now devoid of color, they shrunk significantly, and they’re floating in pink fluid. Clearly I’m clueless – hopefully you can help me out of my foolish mess. 🙂

    • Sara Kinney says:

      Congratulations on the new property! You can use all the aboveground parts of passionflower, so you can tincture the leaves right along with the flowers. When you tincture herbs, the medicine from the herbs is being extracted into the alcohol, so it’s totally normal for the herbs to lose their color and for the alcohol to take on a new, beautiful hue. 🙂

      • Sara, you are fabulous! Thank you for a quick response. After this tropical storm blows through we’re going back into that property to gather more flowers and even some leaves so I can do this properly. I was able to pluck a couple smaller vines from the ground but the rain prevented me from transplanting so I stuck them in water for the time being and they seem to be accepting of the new situation. We have many perfect spots in our yard begging for something to take them over and this vine is just the ticket! Beautiful and useful. 🙂

  8. millie worden says:

    how do I know if I have a passion flower that is not toxic. mine has green fruit for the first time ever, can I also use them safely. Thank you so much

    • Christine Borosh says:

      Not all passionflower species are safe to ingest, so if you are going to use your plant for food or medicine, you’ll need to make sure that you have correct identification of the plant that you are looking to harvest from. If you grew the plant from seed or transplant, then check to see which species that you purchased. Many nurseries sell ornamental passionflower species that are not edible or medicinal. Strictly Medicinal Seeds is a great resource for medicinal seeds and live plants. If the plant is growing wild in your area, then find someone with superb botany skills to help you key out the plant to the correct species. If you aren’t able to tell which species you have for certain, then it is safest to just admire its beauty!

  9. I’ve read that the Passion flower has a euphoric, well being effect on humans’ emotions. Very depressed. So tired of it all! What’s your opinion? I know there’s something that will work, but what?

    • The best course of action would be to see a clinical herbalist who would tailor their dietary and herbal recommendations to your constitution, lifestyle and health. Unfortunately, I’m not providing consultations at this time, but there are a number of great herbalists you can reach out to. The American Herbalist Guild maintains a directory of professional herbalists, which you can access here. You can also check the Links page on our website to find graduates of our programs who do clinical work. It might be worth considering acupuncture or naturopathic care. Note that we cannot offer personal health advice due to legal restraints. I wish you the best on your healing journey!

  10. Monica Petre says:

    Wonderful article?
    I just realized I bought passiflora edulis ‘frederick’ instead of passiflora incarnata. Am I able to use it traditionally? I certainly don’t want to make anything toxic!

    • Passiflora edulis is grown throughout the tropics for its edible pulp, however it has different effects on the body and can’t be substituted for Passiflora incarnata. We are only writing about Passiflora incarnata here; this information can’t be applied to other species in the genus (which may have some toxicity or may not be medicinal at all).

      • Hello Juliet

        I was wondering if you can provide me more information/resources on the uses of Passiflora edulis? I am living in Puerto Rico and that is what grows here. I can’t say that I am not saddened by the realization that it cannot be used interchangeably but despite that I still would like to learn as much as I can about using what is available to me.

        Many Thanks!

        • We’re not aware of any medicinal uses for Passiflora edulis, but it does have edible pulp, so it’s a great wild food source throughout the tropics.

  11. hi! i have a lavender one that a friend gave me. i do not want to let him spray cyctemic that is made for trees and shrubs. that is what not to do. can a tiny bit of dish soap and water work? my best friend the gardener says yes. thank you j for having the passion!! for this wonderful infomation. thank you soooo….much-happy days for you and your followers.

    • Hi there! Is your passionflower infested? If not, there’s no reason to spray it with anything! If it does have a pest problem, then depending on the pest, you can try a soap spray. Soap sprays are commercially available under a number of brand-name products, including Safers Soap. To prepare your own spray, dissolve 1–3 teaspoons (5–15 ml) per 1 gallon (4 L) of water. Be sure to spot test, as soap sprays can irritate many different species of plants. Only use natural, liquid dish soap that doesn’t contain impurities, additives, or fragrances. If you’re not sure what’s eating your passionflower, Mother Earth Living has a nice Guide to Common Garden Pests and Plant Diseases, which also lists non-toxic solutions.

  12. Anabel reyna says:

    I really enjoyed your article and have only had my Passion flower plant for a few months. The cutting I was given was one stem with root. What I’d like to know is how to start another plant, particularly where is the seed on the flower?

  13. Hi Juliet, I am just coming back to my herbal studies after many years hiatus. I have an amazing garden which is graced by a beautiful and flourishing passionflower vine that I would love to take advantage of medicinally. I’ve been trying to research whether different varietals have the same medicinal virtues, but not having much luck. I believe the one we have is a “Blue Passionflower” or Passiflora caerulea. It does not seem to produce fruit (at least not since we’ve lived on the property as of last July). Do you if this varietal is used for medicine?

    Thanks so much for the wonderful article!

      • Linda Thomas says:

        After two days of freshly planting a passion vine… found it to be totally devoured not a crumb left… any idea what could have eaten the entire plant ?

        • Caterpillars are quite fond of passionflower! Other insects, like beetles, also enjoy chowing down on passionflower leaves. See the post to read about the relationship between passionflower and the gulf fritillary butterfly, and how we manage it.

    • Passion flower does not produce fruit until the 3rd year. It will grow for the first two years and die back without fruit and on the third year it will sprawl and produce fruit.

  14. Otunba eric ogunnika says:

    Dear sister JB .OOO You are a very wonderful and sincerely gifted writer,since i ventured into your site and read your articles about medicinal herbal plants . For me!I wish to show my gratitude to God for you and your family I remain!

  15. Hi, I was wondering what you harvest for tea. Is it the leaves or JUST the petals of the actual passionflower, or both? Thank you! PS-thanks for this blog! It’s very informative and one of my go to’s when working on my materia medica!

  16. we have two maypops on our fence, they aren’t thriving though, it didn’t pollenate this year, the two maypops I got last year died. so pretty, edible, can grow verticle, and the medicinal effects will be exciting to discover. hopefully they will live and one day I may even get it to flower.
    can you cold brew, hot brew, or homebrew the leaves, ? should I clotch them? im on the zone edge- im getting married next summer, and im not pregnant, keep the blog up. demille loves this plant.

    • Hi J,
      Im glad you are growing passionflower, it is such a beautiful plant. I think it may overwinter for you with no protection, I have seen it growing further North when it is in a city with all the extra heat. You can certainly make hot tea from the leaves or ferment the leaves (they have a mild flavor). If it does survive this winter, you may get more flowers next year if the plant is bigger.
      Congratulations on your engagement, thats wonderful!

  17. Hi Juliet!

    I loved reading this article on Passion flower. It is one of my favorite plants as well, works so well with circular thinking and insomnia for me and Marek. I loved hearing about the ant protectors this is an amazing relationship, and so sweet to know that it supports the beautiful butterflies growth synergistically as well. The one I bought from you this year at the herb fest is alive and well it a pot on our porch. Do you know if it winters over indoors if I bring it inside, or is it better to plant it in the ground?Thanks for the lovely article!

    • Uma,
      It does overwinter outdoors in our area, prefers full sun and something to climb up or over, i have overwintered it in our unheated greenhouse in a pot but never indoors, not sure how it would like it….
      Love to you and your family

  18. Juliet,

    Thoroughly enjoyable article…Informative, funny, well documented and full of beauty. Just like you! Thanks so much for taking on such intensive work and offering it up for free to our plant community…We are very lucky for thee…Wondering about similar uses for other members of the Passifloraceae and if they might be cultivated around WNC…For instance our other native Passionflower the much more demure Passiflora lutea? Not nearly as common so would need to be grown intentionally rather than wild crafted like P. Incarnata…

    • Yes, I was wondering the same thing: what about our native Passiflora lutea (Yellow Passionflower)? There doesn’t seem to be much information on this species. There’s an article published in 1985 by Spencer and Seigler about the cyanogenic glycosides it produces ( But this doesn’t necessarily mean it is toxic if prepared correctly. Some other food plants produce cyanogenic glycosides too.

      • Juliet Blankespoor says:

        I don’t have any personal experience with Passiflora lutea but I wouldn’t recommend experimenting with it. Passiflora incarnata grows abundantly in most places where P. lutea grows. Confusion is common on the web and in popular herb books regarding the medicinal uses of various passionflower species, with many authors simply inferring that any passionflower is used the same way as Passiflora incarnata. The genus is biochemically complex and varies among species, so experimentation on species with unknown traditional uses is not recommended.

        • Right, Juliet, I agree. More research needs to be done on it! So many cool plants out there, so little time…

  19. dear julliet, this was a delightful inspiring read and viewing! i went into my passiflora patch with hand lens to take a closer look at the nectaries…had always been curious about the role of the ants that i always find.

    i’m curious if you eat the leaves or know of any sources that cite them as a traditional or even contemporary food. i first tried them with teresa boardwine over a decade ago and have since enjoyed them both raw and cooked as an addition to salads, smoothies, pesto, stir fry…nice nutty flavor for me. the only place i’ve seen the leaves referenced as edible is on the plants for a future website. thanks for any leads or stories. much love and gratitude for your shining beauty and brilliance!

    • Kim,
      I nibble on the leaves sparingly as I just cant conceptualize of them as a major green. This is from Daniel Moerman’s Native American ethnobotany site:
      Young shoots and leaves boiled, fried and often eaten with other greens.
      Witthoft, John 1977 Cherokee Indian Use of Potherbs. Journal of Cherokee Studies 2(2):250-255 (p. 253)

      Cherokee Food (Vegetable)
      Leaves parboiled, rinsed and cooked in hot grease with salt as a potherb.
      Perry, Myra Jean 1975 Food Use of “Wild” Plants by Cherokee Indians. The University of Tennessee, M.S. Thesis (p. 50)
      No mention of raw leaves, and both sources list the herb as boiled, whether that is cultural convention or a necessity for removing any toxicity, im not sure (b/c most Cherokee greens seemed to be boiled and then fried)
      fun, stuff!

  20. hey juliet! so incredible! if i was a passionflower, i would be thoroughly impressed on how beautifully i was portrayed.
    i hope the waning of summer has been great for you so far and i’m looking forward to more posts in the future!!!

  21. Ann-Christin says:

    Thank you very much for the article. I have search for seeds to grow the plant here in Sweden but I do not find any. Where can I buy some?

  22. Has anyone else tinctured the root? It was official in the US Pharmacopia as mentioned, so I did a small comparison a couple years ago. Just wondering if anyone else has & is willing to share observations?

  23. I do so love learning along side beauty, which you have combined here.
    I’m new so could you please explain the tincture ratios; 1:2 95% means….
    I have a passion flower vine currently growing in my glasshouse & hope that it will maintain some of it’s green through the winter.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  24. Thanks so much for this article. I planted two vines in early spring. They have been the major food source, first for Gulf Fritallary and now for Zebra Helaconian. While the vines have pretty much been devoured between the two, watching the life cycles of the two has been fascinating!

  25. Elizabeth L'Abate says:

    Beautiful, fascinating, loving, AND humorous!
    I would only add, that I find for cases of chronic stress and insomnia, regular use seems to help unwind the nervous system layer by layer, perhaps preventing future, and easing neuropathy or fibromyalgia….And Matthew Wood -type doses of 1-3 drops of tincture under the tongue can be very effective…Ashwaghanda would be its closest analog…as different as they are!

  26. ruth gallagher says:

    thanks for all this wonderful information on one of my favorite flowering herbs, shes grows abundantly wild here and i cannot wait to see her…great article

  27. Bret C. Duncan says:

    Wonderful article Juliet! I too feel a close kinship with this beauty. Passionflower really amps up my dream life as well, I’ve often thought of the flowers as portals to another dimension! I have several of these beauties growing in my yard and now propagate and dissemenate them among the community.

    • Me too! I already gave to 6 neighbors thinking about to please butterflies…They grow so strong and fast here in the Golf of Mexico, I think they love the humidity that we have. I Brasil we make pies with concentrate juice of the fruits. I sautee’ those leaves with olive oil and garlic and eat the flowers in exotic salads,…I heard that fish with the fruits it’s excellent too. LOOOve everything in this plant.

  28. Love it. Thanks… And, I also read that the indigenous to this land…made a tea from the pulp and strained out the pulp and seed…to drink… I have made this a few times…sweetened with honey and cooled with some ice on a hot summer day — yum! Also, it’s interesting that the word Ocoee means passionflower as well (Ocoee River, etc)… I have read that this is yet another mispronunciation of a native word — Uwagahi — I believe it was…

    • Lindsay, the tea sounds divine, i will have to try it this fall – i have read that the passionflower drink was mixed with cornmeal, similar to horchata, apparently a “social drink” – i wonder if it was fermented.

  29. Pamela Torres says:

    Enjoyed this concise info… I read somewhere that Passion Flower is pollinated by Bats… Therefore I have never planted it – But reconsidering….. Maybe the Bats will find me. Love this plant……. Thank you for writing this blog – I look forward to learning from you…………p

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