By Kathryn Sisler Waple (c) 2023
The first time I saw Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) I was convinced that aliens had planted a foreign species on our planet (and yes, this was prior to the Marvel movie craze!). I do believe that the plants that catch our eye like that are the ones that are calling to us to be in relationship with them. They want to work with us, teach us and there is something they have to offer that we need.
After that first encounter it was more then ten years before I stumbled across her growing wild again, and while I have worked with her extensively in the form of teas and tinctures, there is really nothing quite like going for a walk in the woods and seeing her amazing purple beauty.
Passionflower is a native, creeping vine that can grow up to 20 feet and has alternate 3 or 5 lobed leaves and ornate purple flowers which offers food and habitat to many native pollinators including bees and
butterflies (Howell 120). Some varieties also produce edible fruit. They cross pollinate with each other very easily and have varying degrees of medicinal potency. Flower color is one way to determine the true native medicinal variety, which has the vibrant purple color.
Passionflower is a nervous system nourishing nervine tonic and mild sedative (depending how it is taken). Taken as a tea or infusion of the flowers and tendrils (all aerial parts are medicinal, but I prefer to work exclusively with the flowers and tendrils), passionflower is tonic, meaning it helps to tone, heal and balance the nervous system. As a tincture it can be taken either for acute situations characterized as having a heightened flight or fight response, panic, anxiety, unease, tension headaches, tight muscles, nerve pain, and trouble sleeping or sleep that is plagued by nightmares. The tincture can also be taken in smaller regular doses as a tonic to support a healthy stress response. It has also been shown to help with the symptoms of neurological disorders that affect the nervous system (Tierra 176), (Cech 195), (Howell 121).
This herb is safe for children in the appropriate dose of tincture, or enjoyed as a tea. It should not be taken by people with extremely low blood pressure, or who are taking prescribed medication to control blood pressure.
Howell, Patricia Medicinal Plants of the Southern Applachia
Tierra, Michael The Way of Herbs
Cech, Richo Making Plant Medicine