There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion-flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
She is coming, my life, my fate.
The red rose cries, “She is near, she is near;”
And the white rose weeps, “She is late;”
The larkspur listens, “I hear, I hear;”
And the lily whispers, “I wait.”
Tennyson, Song from Maud
At first glance, Passionflower appears a seamless choice for February; the month is largely associated with St. Valentine’s Day. Love and passion and rampant showcasing of what we think love is.
But Passion is not Love (perhaps it is only a manifestation of various types of love). And considering that the upcoming holiday can be a source of suffering for folks, it is also perhaps pertinent; the word Passion in its true philological sense simply means suffering.
Passionflower | Passiflora incarnata
Passiflora: passi – from the Latin noun passio, passionis (f.), meaning “suffering” or, in later Latin, a reference directly to the “passion” of Christ; -flora from Latin flora (either derived from Flora, goddess of flowers, or the adjective florus, a, um, meaning “bright”).
incarnata: from the Latin adjective incarnatus, a, um, meaning “flesh-coloured”, “flesh-like”, or “made into flesh”. A reference perhaps either to part of the flower’s coloring or to simply to Christ.
Common names: Apricot Vine, Granadilla, Holy-Trinity Flower, Love in a Mist, Maracoc, Maracock, Mayapple, Maycock, Maypop Molly-pop, Old Field Apricot, Passion Vine, Pop-Apple, White Sarsparilla, Wild Passionflower; French: Fleur de la passion, Passiflore
Passionflower received its name—likely from early Spanish explorers or friars—from a connection drawn with Christ’s final hours (certain portions of the plant were taken as symbols of the Passion).
One of the herb’s primary uses in herbal medicine is as an aid for disturbed sleep (of which, ironically, passion is a cause!).
The traditional applications of passionflower are not well-documented in the UK and Irish records, perhaps because of its American origins, and yet it is now one of the most-used herbal sleep aids found here in Europe.
Native American tribes (Cherokee and Houma, among others) used Passionflower both as food and medicine. Captain Smith apparently recorded the usage of the plant in 1612; the tribes in Virginia planted Passionflower for its fruit.
You can read more about Passionflower in the Materia medica (which is being cobbled back together after an unfortunate crash).
I am a doctor of philosophy, not of medicine. While I am a holistic practitioner, this information is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent conditions and diseases. It is a compilation of current and historical research combined with personal experience. Use herbs with caution, do your own research, and consult with your own health practitioner(s).