P&PDL Picture of the Week for
May 30, 2011

Maypop Passionflower's Hidden Qualities

Glenn Nice, Weed Diagnostician, Dept of Botany & Plant Pathology, Purdue University

In the world of weeds few flowers are as stunning as the maypop passionflower’s (Figure 1).  Maypop passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a perennial vine that has a leaf that looks similar to giant ragweed leaves.  The three lobed leaves are arranged alternately on a vine that grows up to six and a half feet long (Figure 2).  Maypop passionflower’s most stunning characteristic is its flower. The flowers are solitary and are found at the base of the petioles.  The plant produces large (1.5 to 3 inch long) berries.

Although it is not common in Indiana, it can be found in several Southern counties: Posey, Vanderburgh, Perry, Knox, Lawrence, Jackson, Washington, Harrison, Floyd, Clark, Switzerland (USDA Plant Data Base).  Maypop passionflowers have been referred to as having medicinal properties. Work has been done investigating its use in the treatment of mild depression and anxiety, as an antioxidant and a mild sedative. Maypop passionflower was also included in studies investigating drug addition treatments. However, in “A review on medicinal plants used in animal models and clinical trials concerning drug addiction” (Kianbakht S., Journal of Medicinal Plants.  2009.  8: 31, 1-13.), the author stated that much of the work ‘provided insufficient evidence to support its use.’

Click image to enlarge

Maypop passionflower

Figure 1

Passionflower leaf

Figure 2

Maypop Passionflower

Figure 3

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service