Home / Herb Library / Passionflower


Passiflora incarnata

Plant Family

Passifloraceae – Passionflower family

Other Names

Apricot Vine, Maypop, Wild Passionflower1

Parts Used

flowering herb


Disturbed sleep from mental worry, and exhaustion from cerebral fullness and from excitement*
Promotes calm and relaxation.*
Support for mild and occasional anxiety.*

Prominent Phytochemicals

Prominent Constituents as Reported in Scientific Literature: Flavonoids, glycosides, glycoproteins, phenolic acids, coumarins and indole alkaloids.3,6,7,8

Did you know?

The tropical fruit, Passionfruit, is related to Passionflower but is a different species called Passiflora edulis.5

Learn More

Botanical Description

Passionflower is a fast-growing, evergreen in tropical climates, climbing, herbaceous perennial that can reach about 20 feet (approximately 6 meters).2,3 Its hollow, lignified and slightly pubescent stems are often referred to as vines, with axillary tendrils to support climbing.2,3,6 The dark green leaves are alternately spaced and palmately shaped with three to five lobes and a serrate margin with a whiteish underside.2,5,6 The large fringed flowers are solitary on a long peduncle with five white to purple petals and five sepals with lavender, pink or purple filamented crowns.2,3,6 Spreading occurs by root suckers and stolons from creeping, above-ground stems.Its fleshy fruits are egg-shaped berries that turn from green to yellow when mature and edible in the fall.5,6 The dark-colored, flattened seeds are numerous and in an ovoid shape enclosed in a yellow to brown, arillate pulp.2,6

Origins & History

Passionflower is native to the southeastern United States and is even considered an invasive weed in Kentucky and other Southern states.2 Ideal growing conditions are sunny locations (direct sun for at least half a day) in all pH and types of well-drained, moist soil.2,3 Its preferred habitat is a sunny edge of a woodland garden with dappled shade, either south or west facing.3 In winter, the aerial parts die back from frost but the roots can be hardy to -4°F (-20°C).If growing in a colder climate, mulch the surrounding ground for added warmth to the roots.3 If growing in a wet climate, note that root rot is common in poorly draining soil, especially in the winter.5 When growing Passionflower from seed, soak them in warm water for 12 hours and sow in late winter or early spring in a warm greenhouse.3 Over-winter the seedlings in the greenhouse for the first winter if planning to grow outdoors.3 When transferring the plant outside in late spring or early summer, consider using a container so the roots are restricted, which encourages fruit production rather than additional vegetation.3 To support climbing, position near an arbor, fence, trellis, tree trunk or wall.2,5 


Passionflower is monoecious with both female and male reproductive parts on the same plant.3 Butterflies and bees are attracted to the fragrant, showy flowers, which bloom from early summer to early fall.2,3 The plant spreads horizontally by aggressive root suckers to variable heights and spreads.2,3 The leaves, vines and flowers are harvested when there are some mature berries and can be dried for later usage.3 


The plant is used among the Cherokee and Houma tribes.4 The root is generally used in Native American herbalism, while the leaves and fruit are used for food and beverage, respectively.The fruits were eaten raw for food or boiled into a syrup, while the young shoots and tender leaves were cooked in combination with other greens or parboiled, salted and cooked in hot grease.2,4 The fruits were also crushed and strained to make a beverage that was occasionally thickened with cornmeal or flour and used on social occasions.2,4 


The edible fruits are called Maypops and were commonly made into jelly when ripe, although these are a different species than the tropical fruit, Passionfruit or Passiflora edulis, that is commonly eaten.Maypop references the sound made when trampling on the fruit. The genus name, Passiflora, originates from the Latin passio meaning “passion” and flos meaning “flower” for the crown or corolla’s symbolism and resemblance to the biblical Crown of Thorns as noted by early Spanish explorers.2,7


  1. McGuffin M, Kartesz J. American Herbal Products Association’s Herbs of Commerce, 2nd ed. Silver Springs, MD: Publication of the American Herbal Products Association; 2000.
  2. USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database: Passiflora incarnata (PLANTS Database, 7 November 2019). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
  3. Plants for a Future. 1996-2012. Plants for a Future Database: Passiflora incarnata (Plants For A Future, 7 November 2019). Devon EX7 9LX England.
  4. Native American Ethnobotany DB. 2003-2018. Native American Ethnobotany Database ( NAEB, 7 November 2019). Dearborn, MI 48198 USA.
  5. Missouri Botanical Garden. Plant Finder Database: Passiflora incarnata (Plant Finder, 8 November 2019). St. Louis, MO 63110 USA.
  6. World Health Organization. WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Vol. 3: Herba Passiflorae. World Health Organization. 2007. Geneva, Switzerland.
  7. Grieve M. A Modern Herbal, Vol. 2, 2nd ed. New York, NY: Dover Publications; 1982.
  8. Skenderi G. Herbal Vade Mecum. Rutherford, NJ: Herbacy Press; 2003.

Herbalist Recommendations: