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Passionflower, belonging to the family of Passifloraceae, has a name that means "passion flower“, It derives from the Latin passio = passion and flos = flower. It was adopted by Linnaeus in 1753, but it was attributed to it by the Jesuit missionaries in 1610 inspired by the evidence that some parts of this plant resemble religious symbols of the passion of Christ. Take the tendrils, for example: here is the whip with which he was scourged. And the three styles, the nails, right? The stamens are the hammer and the corollina rays are the crown of thorns.
The family ofPassifloraceae includes about 465 species of perennial and annual herbaceous plants. There are shrubs, also climbing and lianose, or shrubs and small trees up to 5-6 m. Some come from Central and South America, others come from North America, Australia and Asia.
There passionflower it is used both as an ornamental plant, in gardens, to cover walls, fences, pergolas, both to consume the fruits, and for medicinal purposes thanks to its various properties. Already in ancient times the Aztecs they used it as a relaxant: in the form of infusion, syrup or as a fluid extract it still has strong sedative effects on the nervous system.
It is a tranquilizer, anxiolytic, antispastic, treats insomnia, tachycardia and hysteria. However, it is not a substance that "dulls", it simply induces a physiological sleep allowing normal daytime activity. After the Aztecs, during the First World War, and after, the passionflower it returned to the front row as a cure for "war anxieties" and the infusion was used for psychoasthenia.
Not all of the many sorts of passionflower they are climbers. Whether or not they are, plants show fleshy roots, the Passiflora tuberosa and others similar, have tuberous roots. The stem is very branched, thin, green in the young specimens and then covered with bark and turns gray-brown. The leaves have very different sizes and aspects and it is difficult to list the variety existing in the universe.
Just think that we can meet leaves of a few millimeters as in P. gracillima, or of several decimeters, such as P. gigantifolia. Specifically when we have a climbing passionflower, we note tendrils or suckers, as in P. discophora and P. gracillima, and in some cases also spiny formations.
The passion flower it is hermaphrodite and, like the leaves, can have very different dimensions according to the species. The maximum diameter sighted at the moment is that of 12-15 cm of P. quadrangularis. It is a true spectacle of nature on flower, the stigmas, however, can have an unpleasant smell, there are also scented ones. It is a bet! To look at, however, it is always wonderful.
As fruits it offers us oval or elongated berries which when they reach maturity can turn yellow, purple, blue or black. There are types of fruits that also have yellow or green streaks. The important thing, however, is that there is the gelatinous pulp (aril), rich in small seeds with a flattened shape, heart-shaped, dark in color, leathery and wrinkled.
The only species that we can find cultivated in Italy, just because it can withstand the winter frost, is the passiflora caerulea. It comes from South America and is of the climbing category, has persistent dark green leaves, flowers up to 8-12 cm wide, greenish-white, showing 5 pinkish-white petals. Not only that, they are also decorated with white, blue, dark purple, lilac or violet filaments.
The moment of flowering is summer, from June to September, and it should be remembered that its fruits cannot be eaten raw. And it is valid for 12 months a year: they are in fact rich in cyanogenic glycosides that depress the cardiovascular system.
There passionflower edùlis it is a species that blooms from June to August and is known among the ornamental ones, originating in the tropical areas of South America, not very rustic and grown in greenhouses or apartments. Like her there are also the trifasciata, the quadrangularis, which blooms from May to July with pinkish-white flowers, the violet that blooms in August and September, and the P. umbilicata with brownish-red flowers. And let's not forget the P. racemosa that has gods reddish or whitish flowers gathered in pendulous inflorescences, always summer.
In addition to the caerulea, among the species of passionflower used a medicinal purposes there is the incarnate: the green parts are taken, rich in flavonoids and indole alkaloids, maltol and fatty acids. The time for collecting these parts of passionflower incarnate it is from June to September, then it takes time to dry it in the shade in an airy place. Use follows the pharmacological indications that describe it, also but not only, useful to facilitate, with the doctor's control, weaning from psychotropic drugs.
The fruits are very attractive, but only some species are cultivated for this reason: among these there is ligularis, with very fragrant fruits. Other competitors, which show off greedy and healthy fruits, are for example the maliformis, the membranacea, the very soft, the coccinea and again the edulis. But there are many others in the family, which bear good fruit.
At least 10 euros, here is a version in drops that cancel or placate tension and stress. It is a food supplement Matt & Diet, which promotes relaxation, but also contains valerian for sleep, hawthorn for its relaxing effects, and lime for soothing.
Passiflora: mother tincture
There mother tincture of passionflower it is prepared by picking the leaves, in spring, and creating the fluid with an alcohol content of 65% vol. There are no particular contraindications except those of the passion flower itself which should not be associated with sedatives or synthetic tranquilizers. In case of taking any, it is necessary to give up passionflower because it can enhance them side and unwanted effects. Ditto for the stages of pregnancy and breastfeeding.
There are rustic species of passionflower, such as P. caerulea, which can be peacefully grown in the ground or in pots on the terraces. Just place them in a sunny and warm position and make sure that the soil is fertile and fresh, protecting it from cold winds and winter frosts. At least in the early years.
Less agile to cultivate, less adaptable, is there passionflower then used as an ornamental plant that disdains the fields and demands greenhouses or apartments, warm, bright environments, with good humidity in the air, liquid fertilizers and abundant watering. To find out more about the topic, see our article "The cultivation of passionflower”
A simple simple bag for two euros either, with 10 precious seeds of passiflora caerulea, the one that in Italy has a guarantee of success or almost. Here they are, and let's grow them with passion.
Cultivated, it must be known how to use. We have seen how, but beware of contraindications: has a strong sedative power and can not be joked. Also there may be hypersensitive or allergic people who would have severe anaphylactic shock if they consumed too much.
If you use benzodiazepines, antidepressants, psychotropic drugs in general and sleeping pills, it is absolutely forbidden to take passionflower which, as negative effects, also has nausea, vomiting and dizziness. An extreme overdose instead of calming it, it does the opposite: it can cause tachycardia, hyper-excitement and even hallucinations. In general pregnant or while driving, or if dangerous jobs are carried out, it is better not to use this plant "a little too calming", and that we do not think of taking it together with alcohol.
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