Maypop (Passiflora incarnata), also known as Purple passionflower, is a fast growing perennial vine with climbing or trailing stems.
A member of the passionflower genus Passiflora, the Maypop has large, intricate flowers with prominent styles and stamens. One of the hardiest species of passionflower, it is a common wildflower in the southern United States.
The stems can be smooth or pubescent; they are long and trailing, possessing many tendrils. Leaves are alternate and palmately 3-lobed, measuring from 6-15 cm. 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 corolla. The large flower is typically arranged in a ring above the petals and sepals. They are pollinated by insects such as bumblebees, and are self-sterile.
The fleshy fruit, also in itself called 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. In this species, the yellow mucilage around the seeds of the fruit is sweet and edible, however it is quite seedy and mostly benefits wildlife. As with other passifloras, it is the larval food of a number of butterfly species.
Traditionally, the fresh or dried whole plant has been used as a herbal medicine to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia. The dried, ground herb is frequently used in Europe by drinking a teaspoon of it in tea. A sedative chewing gum has even been produced.
The Maypop occurs in thickets, disturbed areas, unmowed pastures, roadsides, and railroads. It thrives in areas with lots of available sunlight. It is not found in areas of growing forest, however, as the sun is blotted out by growing trees.
Passion flower has a tranquilizing effect, including mild sedative and anti-anxiety effects. In studies conducted since the 1930's, its mode of action has been found to be different than that of most sedative drugs (sleeping pills), thus making it a non-addictive herb to promote relaxation.
The sedative effect of Passion flower has made it popular for treating a variety of ailments, including nervousness and insomnia. Research had indicated that passion flower has a complex activity on the central nervous system (CNS), which is responsible for its overall tranquilizing effects. Also, it apparently has an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscles within the body, including the digestive system, promoting digestion.
Maypop, Passionflower, Apricot Vine, Passion Vine, Blue Passionflower, Purple Passionflower, Wild Passionflower, Passiflora, Flower of the Five Wounds, Waterlemon, Wild apricot and May apple.
There are no reported side effects for passion flower and the suggested dosages. However, it is not recommended for use in pregnant women or children under the age of two. If already taking a sedative or tranquilizer, consult a health care professional before using passion flower.
Since it may cause sleepiness, it should not be used before driving or operating machinery. Children should never be given this herb in any form, and older adults and older children should take low dosages (preferably in consultation with a physician). Do not use Passion Flower if you take MAO inhibitors, and it should not be taken with other prescription sedatives or sedative herbs, as it increases their effects.
* Medicinal Herbs Reference