Herb Spotlight - Passionflower

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Family: Passifloraceae

Part Used: Aerial Parts

Flavor/Aroma: Sour, Sweet

Energetics: Cooling



Passionflower evokes a sense of magic, from it’s extraterrestrial looking flowers, to its hypnotic abilities, this plant is filled with many applicable uses beyond relaxation. It has long been utilized by Aztecs and Native Americans for ceremonies and in various therapies centuries ago, and is still used today. Passionflowers’ beauty reflects only a small fraction of its true medicinal potential.


Passionflower is a perennial, climbing shrub that can reach heights of 30 feet. The leaves are deeply lobed and vibrant green, and the vine expresses unique, colorful blooms in the warmer months between June and September. The flowers are multi-colored with varieties that are combinations of purples, greens, pinks, whites, and blues- it is hard to miss these alien-like flowers. Some species produce a tangy tropical fruit that is dark purple or yellowish, and egg shaped.1

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Passionflower is native to the tropical and semi-tropical regions throughout the Central and South Americas, especially Mexico.3 The plant was harvested by Spanish settlers and taken back to Europe, where it was cultivated and sold as food, medicine, and for ornamental purposes. It is popularly cultivated in Florida, Guatemala, and India.1 The flowers are best harvested when fully expressed in the warmer months of the late summer.

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Passionflower, although not found in the wild in Southern Oregon, can grow if the proper habitat is cultivated. It prefers full sun and moist soil conditions, with a sturdy pole or trellis to climb and grow. Its beauty and fragrance are hard to beat, and when grown in ideal conditions, provides an abundance of sustenance for local pollinators alike.  

History and Folklore:

Traditional Chinese Medicinal Uses: Passionflower was used to ground yang in the liver, especially if it has an upward movement toward the heart; it was used for those who expressed “wind-like” conditions, for those with excess nervous energy in the heart center, and for those prone to “burn out”.1

Spanish missionaries, when making acute observations of this ethereal plant, drew striking similarities to the qualities of the passion of Christ: the flower’s thread like petals were deemed the crown of thorns, the stames represented the wounds, the three stigmas for the nails on the cross, and the five sepals for the ‘true’ ten apostles.2

American Native Uses: The Cherokee tribes and Houmas tribes used Passionflower to relieve nervousness and mental tension, and to aid in sleep disorders including insomnia and restlessness.1

Modern Applications:

Passionflower is indicated to support those with nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, tachycardia, and neuralgia.4,1 It is also used to remedy general irritability, convulsions, to soothe mental worry from overwork, menstrual related nervous systems symptoms, oppressed breathing, typhoid fever, and tetanus. Passionflower is used to support hysteria and emotional overload, and a variety of other cerebral conditions.5,3

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

1 Tablespoon per cup of warm water.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 


3-6 mL up to 3 times per day.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Recommended Usage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended usage amounts are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the usage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.


We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications. May cause drowsiness, and should not be taken with other sleep-aid medications.


  1. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/Passionflowerherb.html 
  2. Brill, S. and E. Dean. 1994. Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places. New York: Hearst Books. 105106.
  3. Passiflora. (n.d.). www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/passiflora.html 
  4. Conduit, R., Ngan, A. (August 25, 2011). A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21294203 
  5. Akhondzadeh, S., Khani, M., Naghavi, HR., Shayeganpour, A. (October 26, 2001). Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11679026

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.