Botanical Name : Passiflora incarnata
Species: P. incarnata
Habitat : Passiflora incarnata is native to Eastern N. America – Virginia and Kentucky, south to Florida and Texas. It grows on the sandy thickets and open soils. Fields, roadsides, fence rows and thickets.
Passiflora incarnata is an evergreen climber of which the stems can be smooth or pubescent; they are long and trailing, possessing many tendrils. Leaves are alternate and palmately 3-lobed and occasionally 5-lobed, measuring 6–15 centimetres (2.4–5.9 in). They have two characteristic glands at the base of the blade on the petiole. Flowers have five bluish-white petals. They exhibit a white and purple corona, a structure of fine appendages between the petals and stamens. The large flower is typically arranged in a ring above the petals and sepals. They are pollinated by insects such as bumblebees and carpenter bees, and are self-sterile. The flower normally blooms in July.
The fleshy fruit, also referred to as a maypop, is an oval yellowish berry about the size of a hen egg; it is green at first, but then becomes orange as it matures. As with other passifloras, it is the larval food of a number of butterfly species, including the zebra longwing and Gulf fritillary. In many cases its fruit is very popular with wildlife.
The maypop occurs in thickets, disturbed areas, near riverbanks, and near unmowed pastures, roadsides, and railroads. It thrives in areas with lots of available sunlight. It is not found in shady areas beneath a forest canopy.
Fruits are eaten – raw or cooked in jellies, jams etc. A sweet flavour, it is best when used as a jelly. High in niacin. Fairly large, the fruit is up to 5cm in diameter though it contains relatively little edible pulp and a lot of seeds. Leaves are also eaten raw or cooked. Said to be delicious as a cooked vegetable or when eaten in salads. Flowers – cooked as a vegetable or made into syrup
Requires a well-drained soil with plenty of moisture in the growing season, otherwise it is not fussy. Another report says that it prefers a well-drained sandy slightly acid soil in full sun. In a well-drained soil the roots are hardy to about -20°c, although top growth is killed back by frost. The top growth is cut back almost to the ground each year by some people and the plant treated as a herbaceous perennial. The roots should be mulched in winter to prevent them from freezing. Plants thrive in a short growing season. A climbing plant, supporting itself by means of tendrils. Resistant to pests and diseases. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Cultivated for its edible fruit by the North American Indians. Plants yield from 5 to 20 fruits annually in the wild. Outdoor grown plants should have their roots restricted in order to encourage fruit production instead of excessive vegetative growth. Hand pollinate using pollen from a flower that has been open for 12 hours to pollinate a newly opened flower before midday. Special Features: North American native, Attracts butterflies, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow late winter or early spring in a warm greenhouse. If sown in January and grown on fast it can flower and fruit in its first year. The seed germinates in 1 – 12 months at 20°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. It you are intending to grow the plants outdoors, it is probably best to keep them in the greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Mulch the roots well in late autumn to protect them from the cold. Cuttings of young shoots, 15cm with a heel, in spring. Leaf bud cuttings in spring. Cuttings of fully mature wood in early summer. Takes 3 months. High percentage.
The leaves of passion flower are an ingredient in many European pharmaceutical products to treat nervous disorders, such as heart palpitations, anxiety, convulsions, epilepsy and sometimes high blood pressure. They have been shown to make a nonaddictive sedative that relaxes the nervous system. Passion flower seems especially helpful when physical or mental strain results in insomnia or stress. While it is not a strong pain reliever and it may take a while for its effects to be noticed, it seems to have a lasting and refreshing effect on the nervous system. It is used to prevent spasms from whooping cough, asthma, and other diseases. The dried herb is also used for Parkinson’s disease, hysteria, and shingles. The unusual fruit has been historically considered to be a sedative.
In Germany, passionflower is used as a component of prepared sedative (in combination with lemon balm and valerian root) and cardiotonic (in combination with hawthorn) nonprescription drugs in various dosage forms including coated tablets, tinctures, and infusions. It is also used in German homeopathic medicine to treat pain, insomnia related to neurasthenia, and nervous exhaustion. In German pediatric medicine, it is used as a component of Species nervinae pro infantibus (sedative tea for children), which contains 30% lemon balm leaf, 30% lavender flower, 30% passionflower herb, and 10% St. John’s wort herb. It is also a component of a standard Commission E fixed formula “Sedative Tea,” which contains 40% valerian root, 30% passionflower herb, and 30% lemon balm leaf. In the United States, passionflower is used as a sedative component of dietary supplement sleep aid formulations. It was official in the fourth (1916) and fifth (1926) United States National Formulary and removed in 1936. It was also an approved OTC sedative and sleep aid up until 1978.
Very few pharmacological studies have been undertaken, though its central nervous system sedative properties have been documented, supporting its traditional indications for use. The approved modern therapeutic applications for passionflower are supportable based on its history of use in well established systems of traditional and conventional medicine, pharmacodynamic studies supporting its empirically acknowledged sedative and anxiolytic effects, and phytochemical investigations.
German pharmacopeial grade passionflower must be composed of the whole or cut dried aerial parts, collected during the flowering and fruiting period, containing not less than 0.4% flavonoids calculated as hyperoside. Botanical identity must be confirmed by thin-layer chromatography (TLC) as well as by macroscopic and microscopic examinations and organoleptic evaluation. Purity tests are required for the absence of pith-containing stem fragments greater than 3 mm in diameter and also for the absence of other species. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia requires not less than 15% water-soluble extractive, among other quantitative standards. The French Pharmacopoeia requires not less than 0.8% total flavonoids calculated as vitexin by measuring the absorbance after reaction. The ESCOP monograph requires that the material comply with the French, German, or Swiss pharmacopeias.
The herb was introduced into United States medicine in 1867 as a sedative and was listed in the National Formulary from 1916 until 1936. A sedative passion flower chewing gum was even marketed in Romania in 1978. In 1990, a marked increase in passion flower sales was assumed to be a result of consumer concern over using the amino acid L-tryptophan as a sedative and sleep inducer. The Commission E approved the internal use of passionflower for nervous restlessness. The British Herbal Compendium indicates its use for sleep disorders, restlessness, nervous stress, and anxiety. Other uses include neuralgia and nervous tachycardia. The German Standard License for passionflower tea indicates its use for nervous restlessness, mild disorders of sleeplessness, and gastrointestinal disorders of nervous origin. It is frequently used in combination with valerian and other sedative plants. ESCOP indicates its use for tenseness, restlessness, and irritability with difficulty in falling asleep.
Landscape Uses:Arbor, Container, Seashore.
Passiflora incarnata extracts can be potentially used to produce organic sunscreens with a protective defense against UV radiations. The use of these plant compounds would diminish the concentration of synthetic UV in sunscreens.
Known Hazards: Sedation. Hypersensitivity reactions noted. Can potentiate the action of central nervous system depressants like alcohol
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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