Passiflora spp.



Passionflower.

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Passiflora spp.

Botanical information

Passiflora ligularis is an evergreen vine, that grows to a height of 10m. The stem is woody, slender and branching; the leaves are soft and light green. The flowers are white and purple; the fruit is a large, eggshaped, leathery case containing a soft, fleshy pulp with many seeds.

Native to tropical America.

Propagation is by seed or cuttings.


Passiflora incarnata is an evergreen vine, that grows to a height of 8m. The stem is woody, slender and branching; the leaves are 3-lobed, leathery and dark green. The flowers are white and purple; the fruit is a large, eggshaped, leathery case containing a soft, fleshy pulp with many seeds.

Native to tropical America.

Propagation is by seed or cuttings.


Passiflora alata is a vigorous evergreen vine, that grows to a height of 10m. The stem is woody, slender and branching; the leaves are dark green and oval acuminate. The flowers are white and purple, with bright red sepals; the fruit is a large, eggshaped, leathery case containing pithy pulp with many seeds.

Native to tropical America.

Propagation is by seed or cuttings.


Passiflora quadrangularis is an evergreen vine, that grows to a height of 15m. The stem is woody, slender and branching; the leaves are soft and light green. The flowers are white and purple, with bright red sepals; the fruit is a large, with an appearance of a small melon, containing a solid pulp with many seeds.

Native to tropical America.

Propagation is by seed or cuttings.


Traditional uses

Passiflora ligularis is one of the commercial Maracuja fruit producers.

Passiflora incarnata is farmed as a medicinal herb and has a rich history of traditional use in North America where it was used mainly as a sedative. It is a popular herbal tea for the same purpose in modern times and has found favour as a relaxing herbal smoke as well.

Passiflora alata is a stunning ornamental. Processing of herbal material has caused allergic responses.

Passiflora quadrangularis produces a large edible fruit about the size of a honeydew melon. It does not share the same delicate flavour of commercial passionfruit, but is rather more like a juicy melon. An extract of the herb decreases haemorrhaging by 25%. The herb is used to prepare a sedative infusion in the amazon.


Pharmacology

Passiflora ligularis is one of the commercial Maracuja fruit producers. It is likely that all Passiflora species contain the sedative principles.

Passiflora incarnata: Several flavonoids have been isolated from P. incamata L., chrysin and apigenin, (Zanoli 2000) along with orientin, isoorientin, vitexin and isovitexin (Soulimani 1997).Chrysin exhibited an anxiolytic effect, which was showed by an increase in locomotor activity in rats when injected at Img/kg (Zanoli 2000). This effect was linked to GABA benzodiazepine receptors in the brain because the anxiolytic effect was blocked by an injection of Flumazenil, which is a benzodiazepine antagonist (Zanoli 2000).

Extracts of the aerial parts of Passiflora incamata L. contain the beta-carbolines: harman, hamine, harmaline, harmol, and harmalol, along with an aroma compound, maltol (Soulimani 1997). Beta-carbolines have been found to prevent neuron damage to the brain mitochondria of dopamine-induced mice by acting as an antioxidant and scavenging hydroxyl radicals (Lee 2000). Harman acts as a vasorelaxant (something that reduces inflammation or edema), it functions by releasing GABA, serotonin and noradrenaline (Dolzhenko 1987). The beta carbolines were once assumed to be responsible for the sedative effect of Passifloras, but the negligible amounts of these present in the herb means that the flavonoids chrysin and apigenin are now thought to be the main active constituents. The roots may prove to contain higher amounts of beta carbolines, but this has not been verified.

Five patients were admitted to a hospital with altered consciousness after taking the herbal product, Relaxir, produced mainly from the fruit pulp of Passiflora incarnata L. (Solbakken 1997).

Passiflora alata is a stunning ornamental. It is likely that all Passiflora species contain the sedative principles.

Passiflora quadrangularis It contains several monoterpenoids which have shown anticancer activity. It is likely that all Passiflora species contain the sedative principles.

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