There is a special area in my garden where I planted a Passiflora. Passiflora, the plant of passion fruits, is connected with the Passion of the Christ, but I also relate it with the ‘passions’, the suffering of oppressed people around the world.
Passiflora incarnata in Greek is called ‘clocks – rologia’, and ‘the Passion of Christ’ – ‘Pathi toy Christou.’ It originated in America (Virginia and Mexico) and native Americans like the Aztecs, Mayas, and Cherokees use the plant for its pharmaceutical power – but they also worship it. Unfortunately, most stories connect the plant with genocides and the suppression of the religions of the natives by European conquerors.
From ancient times, many myths of various religions are connected with plants, fruits, and flowers. The truth is that nature – whether you are religious or not – ‘preaches’ basic truths to us.
The symbolism in the flower of this plant is truly extraordinary. The typical blue-white color of the original version of the flower (there are many different colors in cultivars) symbolizes purity of the sky. The five external petals and sepals represent 10 of the 12 disciples of Christ (except Peter who denied Him and Juda who betrayed Him). The purple-blue ‘crown’ symbolizes the Crown of Thorns of Christ. The five stamens symbolize the wounds of Christ. The triple form of the plant stands for the three nails. The hypers in the center reminds of the column where Christ was tortured and the flower has a three-day period in full bloom, like the time between crucifixion and resurrection.
Passiflora prefers rich, lightly acidic ground, with just enough water and strong direct sun, in order to thrive. All parts of the plant can be collected and used: flowers, fruit, and leaves can be dried and used as herbs. The scent of the flowers attracts many pollinating insects and the stems of the plant help it to climb trees and fences.
The passiflora fruit is rich in vitamins, calcium, iron, minerals, and fiber, but the true power of the plant is passiflorine, flavonoids and substances that help with insomnia and stress. It is much stronger than chamomile and valerian and you can combine it with them because it has bitter taste. You can also soak the leaves or flowers in hot water for eight minutes to make a relaxing tea. After a long day at work, or to treat insomnia due to overwork, this cup of tea can be a balm for soul and body.
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira is an Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD in Agricultural Economics, Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication.