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Passiflora incarnata

Maypop
Passiflora Herb
(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 prominant 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. In areas of growing forest, they will disappear as the sun is blotted out by growing trees.

Other common names include Wild apricot and May apple.



Other useful herb information: Ephedra | Cilantro | Elderberry | Butcher broom | Avena Sativa | Reishi Mushroom | Maitake

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