Several species of the Passiflora genus are native to Florida, including a well-loved medicinal variety known as Passiflora incarnata. Despite it’s exotic look and aggressive growth, this flowering vine is non-invasive in Florida (“Passiflora Incarnata”). You can find their extravagant day-long blooms inching across the tops of trees, over trellises, and splayed out on the side of the road, among other sunny spots. Their striking appearance and medicinal value have given them plenty of attention in both the horticulture and herbalist world. They prefer sandy, well-draining soil and full sunlight, and are hardy in zones 5a-9b, being mainly found in North and Central Florida. (“The Passion Fruit in Florida”).
If you stumbled across the passion flower, you’d probably be able to identify it by description alone. The exotic appearance of this bloom is showy and bright, with a fringe corona covering its petals. They are primarily lavender-coloured with some white accents, particularly on the ends of the fringe, but can vary in shades of pink, blue, white, and purple (“Passiflora incarnata”). It’s intriguing and beautiful combination of both pistils and stamens lends a gorgeous center to this incredible flower (Johnson). As a vine, it spreads and secures itself to vertical structures including trees, fences, and gates using tendrils that grow from its axils; their leaves are finely toothed and deeply lobed, consisting of 3-5 lobes per leaf (Gruenstaeudl).
** Always consult a healthcare professional before making use of herbal remedies, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, on medications, or are in a high risk group **
Medicinally, Passiflora incarnata is often used to treat anxiety and stress. As a nervine, it is used to quiet the mind and relax the body via the nervous system. It is often used with other herbs such as Withania somnifera to help with sleep disorders. It has also been used to treat muscle twitches, muscle spasms, and headaches caused by nervousness. (Easley and Horne). According to The Herbal Sourcebook, passionflower has been used to treat nerve pain, including neuralgia associated with shingles, and is an excellent antispasmodic for diseases such as Parkinson’s. The author also notes that this remedy does not cause a “hangover” after use, as some herbs and medications tend to.
Passionflower remedies are commonly taken as teas, tinctures, and glycerites. As a tea or infusion, it can be taken nightly to ease sleep struggles, or 2-4 times daily to ease stress, anxiety, and tension. Tinctures and glycerites can be used in the same fashion.
In terms of energetics, this herb is considered relaxing and cooling. It does not have any common contraindications, but as with any substance, can be irritating to those with allergies.
This gorgeous flower’s breathtaking appearance and sedating qualities make it a must-have plant if you live in Florida. Not only is it incredibly beautiful and beneficial for many disorders; it also hosts two native butterfly species called the Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae Linnaeus) and Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia), among many other pollinators. If you have the room for this fast growing flower, consider adding it to your garden! Check out my sources linked below for more information on how to grow and identifty this incredible plant.
This post is the first of a series I hope to continue as I learn more about Florida’s native medicinal botanicals. I am not a native Floridian; my knowledge of the native species here is foggy at best. I’ve met more invasive species than native ones, it seems, and I’ve had a hard time adjusting to the new flora and fauna in my area. Missouri is full of clover, wild grassland, and hundreds of plants I’ve spent years getting to know; South Florida’s climate makes for a radically different set of plants. Not only am I learning what they are, but also if they’re native, invasive, or naturalized, and if they have medicinal properties I can use. Needless to say, meeting them has been intimidating. Through these spotlights, my aim is to educate myself, take notes, and share my journey with anyone else trying to introduce themselves to the local plants here! I live in South Florida specifically, so I will be trying to focus on plants that grow in my region. Let me know if you have any species you’d like me to cover, I’d love to learn with you!
Bailey, M., Crane, J., Chambers, A., Anderson, J., Rezazadeh, A., & Sarkhosh, A. (2021, January 25). The Passion Fruit in Florida. University of Florida: IFAS Extension. Retrieved February 26, 2022, from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/HS1406
Easley, T., & Horne, S. H. (2016). In The Modern Herbal Dispensatory: A Medicine-Making Guide (pp. 208–208). essay, North Atlantic Books.
Gruenstaeudl, M. (2009, June 2). PASSIFLORACEAE: Passiflora incarnata. Passiflora incarnata. Retrieved February 26, 2022, from http://www.bio.utexas.edu/courses/bio406d/images/pics/pas/passiflora_incarnata.htm
Johnson, S. (2017, September 21). Parts of the passion flower. Garden Guides. Retrieved February 26, 2022, from https://www.gardenguides.com/98546-parts-passion-flower.html
North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. (n.d.). Passiflora incarnata. Passiflora incarnata (Apricot Vine, Maypop, Passionflower, Passion Flower, Passion Vine) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved February 26, 2022, from https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/passiflora-incarnata/