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Passion flower | Description, Species, Symbolism

Passion flower | Description, Species, Symbolism

Passiflora (genus Passiflora), also called passion flower, genus of more than 500 species of mostly tendril-bearing vines in the family Passifloraceae and their characteristic flowers. Most species are found in the Neotropical regions of America. Some are grown as ornamentals while others are grown for their edible fruits. Many are important larval host plants for butterflies.

physical description
Most passion flowers are creeping or prostrate vines with grasping tendrils; some are trees or shrubs. The plants can be herbaceous or woody. The simple leaves are entire or lobed, and a single plant can produce a variety of leaf shapes.

The passion flower flower varies in shape from a flat saucer shape to a long cylindrical or trumpet-shaped tube, producing at its upper edge five sepals, five petals, and many filamentous or membranous outgrowths from the tube, which are the most conspicuous and beautiful part of the flower, called the corona. Rising from the base of the inner part of the tube is a stalk that bears a ring of five stamens (the male pollen-producing structures) above the center. Above the stamens is the female structure or ovary, at the apex of which three widely spreading styles arise. Each style ends in a button-like stigma that looks more like a big-headed nail. The flowers can be tiny, like those of the passion flower (Passiflora suberosa), or large and showy. The single-compartment ovary contains numerous seeds, arranged in three clusters, which ripen into a berry-like or capsule-like fruit.

Important Species
The wild passion flower, passion vine, or maypop (Passiflora incarnata) climbs about 3 to 9 meters (10 to 30 ft) tall and has pink and white flowers that are about 4 to 7.5 cm (1.5 to 3 in) in diameter and a yellow, berry-like edible fruit about 5 cm long. Yellow passionflower (P. lutea) is a smaller plant with greenish-yellow flowers and purple fruits.

Some highly perfumed passion fruit are eaten as a delicate dessert fruit, such as the giant granadilla (P. quadrangularis). The purple passion fruit, also called purple granadilla or maracuyá (P. edulis) and yellow granadilla or water lemon (P. laurifolia), as well as wild passion flower, are widely grown in tropical America for their fruit. P. maliformis is the sweet calabash of the West Indies. The size of these fruits is usually no larger than that of a hen’s egg, but the fruit of the giant granadilla is like a pumpkin and can weigh up to 3.5 kg (about 8 pounds).


The passion flower bloom, particularly the purple passion fruit (P. edulis) bloom, is often used to symbolize events in the last hours of Jesus Christ’s life, the Passion of the Christ, which gives the group its name. Thus the crown represents the crown of thorns, the stems represent the nails used in the crucifixion, the stamens represent the five wounds, and the five sepals and five petals represent 10 of the apostles – all except Judas who betrayed Jesus , and St Peter denying Jesus three times on the night of his trial.