Passionflower: Everything You Need To Know

Passionflower: Everything You Need To Know
Passiflora Incarnata

Used for centuries by native peoples in South America for its many healthful and relaxing properties, passionflower can be considered a true miracle plant. Learn all you need to know about passionflower, find out about its benefits and effects, and how you can grow this gorgeous plant in your own garden!



Passionflower, also referred to as Maracuja or Maypop, is a genus of flowering plants in the family of Passifloraceae. It is found in the tropical rainforests and semi-tropical areas in South and North America, where it climbs up on other plants in the rainforest, using tendrils. There are over 500 species of passionflower vines, with the most common varieties found in the Amazon: passiflora edulis and passiflora incarnata.

Passionflower develops distinct, large, purple or white flowers that can be pink or purple in the centre. It was named by early Spanish missionaries, who thought that the appearance of parts of the flower represented the Crucifixion of Christ. Therefore, they called it “Flower of Passion”.

Some species of passionflower vine also produce a fruit about the size of a lemon, the passion fruit, which is also referred to as maracuja. Usually yellow or purple in colour, the fruit has a tough outer rind and a seedy centre and is well-known for its high antioxidant content. The pulp of the fruit can be eaten or can be used to make drinks, sherbets and jams.


Christian scholars described the flower as “La Flor de las cinco Llagas” (the “Flower with Five Wounds”), or “Flower of Passion”, as references to the passion and wounds of the Christ. For them, the five petals and the five sepals of the plant represented the 10 faithful apostles (excluding the not-so-faithful Peter and Judas), and the tips of the leaves resembled centurion’s spear. The central flower was a symbol for the pillar of the scourging and the tendrils of the plant resembled the whips used in the flagellation. The corona filament had been compared to the crown of thorns with the three stigmas of the plant representing the nails. The five anthers stood for the five sacred wounds and the red stains of the flower symbolized the blood of Christ.

Later, in 1745, Swedish botanist Linnaeus gave the plant the Latin name “Passiflora”, which is the name that is still used for the genus today.


Passionflower: Benefits And Effects

The natives of the tropical rainforest have used the passion flower for centuries as a natural medicine. They used the leaves of the plant and made tinctures to heal small wounds, cuts and bruises. Passionflower also has calming and sedative properties, which makes it effective to treat stress and anxiety as well as sleeping troubles. In the past, it had also been used as a medicine for women to treat hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.


Research has shown that certain alkaloids in passionflower increase the inhibitory GABA neurotransmitter. GABA balances the mood and calms the nerves, thus can regulate anxiety. The plant can therefore potentially help in nervousness, anxiety, and depression.

Women who are undergoing menopause are sometimes suffering from mood disorders, where the passionflower has also shown to be an effective help. Moreover, it can relieve hot flashes and night sweats, which are another, quite common menopause symptom.


As passionflower has the abovementioned, mild anti-anxiety and sedative properties, it can be an excellent natural sleeping aid. In a study published in 2017 in the Nation Institute of Health, it had been found that the “extracts from the Passiflora incarnata can be considered as appropriated sleep inducers”, confirming the plant's calming effects.

During this study, a group of volunteers with sleeping troubles, who drank passionflower tea at bedtime for a period of time, reported significant sleep improvement. Just as with it improving the mood, the calming effect of the passionflower for a good night’s sleep is due its ability to increase GABA in the brain. In addition to that, passionflower also works as a muscle relaxant and relieves tension, which is another reason why the plant can help people fall asleep easier.


Passionflower has also powerful antioxidant properties. It helps eliminate so-called free radicals in the body, which are harmful substances that cause cell damage and can lead to early signs of aging. Among the list of antioxidants that are found in the passionflower are: kaempferol, vitexin, isovitexin, quercetin, rutin, apigenin and luteolin glycosides. The plant also contains the flavonoid quercetin which is a particularly powerful antioxidant that by itself has a wide range of health benefits. It can reduce inflammation, eliminate pain, protect against heart disease and boost the immune system.

Passiflora Incarnata

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Passionflower has also been found to decrease blood pressure. Patients who suffer from mild hypertension can regulate their blood pressure by regularly drinking herbal tea made from passionflower. The same study notes that passionflower is potentially also useful for metabolic health and that it may have an anti-aging effect.


Some species in the Passiflora family can also help with stomach problems. An extract of Passiflora foetida, a species of wild passionflower that is known as “stinking passionflower”, is possibly effective in treating stomach ulcers as one research study conducted on animals suggests. The plant is commonly found as a wild flower in the US and gets its name from the Latin word ”foetida”, which means "stinking". It was named this way simply due to the unpleasant aroma the plant gives off.



You can easily make a calming tea from the vine and the flowers of the passionflower. Passionflower tea makes a great natural sleeping aid, but can also help you with the relief of various pains.

The Zamnesia Passionflower in the form of dried herbs is an easy and convenient way to make your passionflower tea. Use 1 teaspoon of Zamnesia dried passionflower per cup of water in your teapot. Pour boiling water and let the tea steep for about 5 to 10 minutes.

You can also use the Zamnesia 5x Passionflower Extract if you want a particularly powerful and concentrated way to consume passionflower.

To make tea from the Zamnesia 5x Passionflower Extract, use 0.3-0.5 grams of the concentrated powder per day as a standard dosage. For a more intense effect, let 3-4 grams of the powder steep in hot water for about 30 minutes. The tea is ideal for stress, or if you want to get rid of a bad headache and other pains!


Some of the several hundreds of species of the passionflower produce edible fruits in different sizes and shapes, most of them about the size of a lemon. It’s called passion fruit or maracuja, and you can use it for delicious desserts or organic fruit juices. Passion fruit has an exotic, slightly tangy, acidic taste and various health benefits. To name a few, it is claimed to boost immunity, enhance digestive health, regulate blood pressure and aid diabetes treatment.



Many hobby gardeners love to grow passionflower for its exotic looks, although the plant can be quite picky, which makes growing her not always easy. In good conditions, passionflower vines can get up to 10m tall and about 2.5m wide, depending on the variety. Some varieties, however may grow more like shrubs and some may also produce edible fruit..

No matter what type of passionflower you want to grow, all of them will have beautiful flowers, which will normally only open for one day. Then again, the stunning beauty and the unique appearance of the flowers make passionflower always a delight to grow, even if you may only get a few flowers on each vine.

Since passionflower vines climb up on structures, it is a particularly great plant that can use beautify walls and fences in your garden.


Passionflower does best if you plant her in spring, in fertile, well-drained soil. The best way to go about planting would be if you get the plants from a nursery, although you could in principle also grow them from seed or from cuttings.

For planting, dig a large hole, about three times the diameter of the root ball. Take the plant out of the pot it came with and use a hose to wash the root ball, so that the roots are exposed. Carefully place the root ball into the hole and fill with your potting soil. Water, and afterwards also make sure to keep the flowers well-watered at all times.

If you don’t have a suitable spot in your garden to plant the vines, you can also grow passionflower in pots. Make sure you place them in a spot where the plants can get plenty of sunlight. If you don’t live in a tropical climate, you should bring the plants indoors during winter. The plants will show off their gorgeous flowers late in the summer.



For centuries, indigenous peoples of South America, including the Aztecs and Incas, cultivated passionflower for its fruit and the plant’s medicinal properties.

The story has it, that it was discovered in Peru in 1569 by Spanish missionaries. It is thought that the variety first encountered was passiflora caerulea, or blue passionflower, judging by drawings and literary accounts following the discovery.

Brought to Europe from South America, passionflower became a popular ornamental plant, in particular in Great Britain. It was introduced by European physicians in the early 20th century as a mild medicinal herb, for treating sleep disorders and anxiety.

Today, the plant is still popular, not only among gardeners who like it for her striking and exotic appearance. Passionflower also plays an important role in herbalism and natural medicine since it has various medicinal properties and health benefits.



Passionflower contains three main groups of active compounds, alkaloids, glycosides and flavonoids. It is noteworthy to mention that some of the compounds in the plant by themselves don’t have any notable medicinal properties on their own, as research has shown. Only in combination with the other chemicals in the plant, as they’re naturally occurring in the herb, are they displaying their benefits, such as their relaxing properties.

In addition to the alkaloids and anti-oxidant flavonoids, the passionflower has also been found to contain maltol, which is an organic compound that has a sedative effect. Harmane alkaloids in the passionflower have demonstrated muscle-relaxing properties and can lower blood pressure. The flavonoid chrysin which is also found in honey and some other plants has shown to be very effective in relieving anxiety.

Research has identified many different compounds in the passionflower including alkaloids, alpha-alanine, apigenin, aribine, chrysin, citric acid, coumarin, cyclopassifloic acids A-D, cyclopassiflosides I-VI, diethyl malonate, edulan I, edulan II, flavonoids, glutamine and gynocardin. It also contains harmane, harmaline, harmalol, harmine, harmol, homoorientin, isoorientin, isoschaftoside, isovitexin, kaempferol, loturine, lucenin-2, lutenin-2, luteolin, n-nonacosane, orientin, passicol, passiflorine, passifloric acid, pectin, phenolic acids, phenylalanine, proline, prunasin, quercetin, raffinose, sambunigrin, saponarin, saponaretin, saponarine, schaftoside, scopoletin, serotonin, sitosterol, and stigmasterol.



Although passionflower can generally be considered a safe herbal supplement, it can sometimes lead to side effects if not taken in proper dosage, and in particular if taken together with some medications and other supplements. Some of the side effects of passionflower can be dizziness and drowsiness, confusion, decreased blood pressure and nausea. Children shouldn’t be given passionflower without prior consultation with a paediatrician.

To minimize the risk of unwanted side effects, you should follow the general dosage and below rules when taking passionflower:

  • Passionflower extract:

When you are taking dried passionflower extract, the recommended dosage is 0.25 to 2g orally, up to three times a day.

  • Passionflower tea:

Use 0.25 to 2 grams of extract per 150 ml of water and drink 2 to 3 times a day. It’s best if you have it 30 minutes before bedtime.

  • Passionflower tincture and liquid extract:

Take 0.5 to 2ml of passionfruit tincture, up to three times a day and use the same amount if you’re taking liquid passion fruit extract.

To prevent unwanted effects, you should not exceed these recommended dosages.

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Be cautious if you’re taking passionflower together with other medications, in particular if you’re taking sedatives such as alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), temazepam (Restoril), and zolpidem (Ambien). The combination of these drugs with passionflower can lead to increased sedation.

You should also be careful if you’re using certain medications for lowering your blood pressure, such as enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), atenolol (Tenormin), amlodipine (Norvasc), and furosemide (Lasix). When you take passionflower supplements together with these medications, your blood pressure may drop too low.

The alkaloids in the passionflower, especially harman and harmaline, may also increase the effects of certain prescription antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which are often prescribed for mood disorders such as depression, panic attacks and eating disorders. Caution is also advised when taking passionflower with other sedatives, including those available over-the-counter since they can also increase their effects.

If you have any doubts or questions, ask your doctor or healthcare provider before taking passionflower products or supplements.



The exotic passionflower catches not only the attention of humans, which makes it a fabulous plant if you want to accent your home’s front door area. The flowers will also attract butterflies, who love the plant just like we do. Plant them together with other butterfly-attracting plants such as butterfly bush, ironweed, goldenrod or yellow cone flowers and you will get beautiful butterflies in your garden all summer long!

There are many varieties of passionflower that you can grow in your garden. Depending on the variety, their flowers can be yellow, orange, deep red or purple. One particular type of passionflower, “Raspberry Strudel”, produces striking flowers that blend beautiful pink and red colours.

If you want to plant a variety that also produces fruit, check out the Passiflora edulis (“edulis” stands for edible). One popular variety is the Maypop (Wild Apricot), which you can often find as a wild flower in the Southern US. She got her name because the fruits “pop” when you step on them.

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Passionflower is an effective natural remedy that can help with many ailments. With dried passionflower herbs and extracts at Zamnesia you can easily make teas and tinctures so you can enjoy the plant’s calming and pain relieving properties for yourself!

We are not making medical claims. This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by other externals sources.