Synonyms: Passion fruit, maycock, American clematis, granadilla, flower of the five stigmata
Scientific Name: Passiflora caerulea L.
Throughout America and the East Indies
Flavonoids with vitexin as the main component, cumarin, umbelliferon, maltol.
It is hard to believe that this is a real flower. Anyone coming across this climbing plant while on a walk in southern regions will have regarded it as a miracle. In marked contrast to the thin, bare green-leaved stems growing to a length of 5 m are the luxuriant blooms of the passion flower, which appear from May to September, reaching a diameter of 8 cm, and which occur in white, blood-red and violet colours. A thick corona of filaments consisting of blue leaves frames a strong pistil in three parts and five stamens which stretch towards the observer. Each of these miracles blooms for just one day.
The passion flower is used wherever nervous conditions result in pain: nervous unrest, slight problems in sleeping, gastro-intestinal pain caused by nerves. In homoeopathy it is also used as a mild agent for relieving cramp.
When the passion flower was imported into Europe in the 17th century, it was met with enthusiasm not only because of its healing properties but also because it was revered by pious Christians as being a symbol of Christ’s crucifixion. In its flower they saw the whole of the story of the crucifixion: the 10 petals represented the 10 apostles of Christ, the blue crown appeared as the crown of thorns, in its columnar ovary they saw the scourging post, the three styles of the pistil wider at the ends symbolised the nails of the cross and the five stamens stood for the stigmata of Jesus. The tendrils were the lashes with which Jesus was scourged and the giant leaf of the tendrils stood for the spear with which he was pierced. From this interpretation it is clear how the name passion flower arose.The genus Passiflora includes varieties with edible fruits, which are known as passion fruits. But it is not the fleshy fruit itself that is eaten, but the jelly-like mantle that surrounds the seed kernels.
In its natural habitat of America the passion fruit has long been used by the native American population as a medicine for calming and relaxing as well as a food. The Spanish physician Monardes discovered it for Europe in 1569. The monks who saw in the passion flower Christ’s Passion thought that they saw in it a sign from heaven that the Indians of the lands that had been conquered must be converted to Christianity.