|Whole, mitten and gloved leaves- VTech|
|Maypop fruit- Wikimedia|
"When Christian missionaries arrived in South America in the 16th century, they found a plant which they felt was a good omen for their mission. They called it the passion flower because to them it symbolized the death of Christ. The five sepals and five petals of the flower, which are similar in appearance, represent the disciples without Peter and Judas. The double row of colored filaments, known as the corona, signifies the halo around Christ's head or the crown of thorns. The five stamens and the three spreading styles with their flattened heads symbolize the wounds and the nails respectively. The vines tendrils resemble the whips used to scourge Christ. " Indiana.edu
|Developing flower head- Rkipfer|
The passionflower family members are the exclusive larval host plants for the Gulf Fritillary and also a host plant for the Variegated Fritillary butterflies. The fruit which is actually a berry was a favorite food of early colonial settlers in the south, following the example of Native Americans in the area.
The whole plant has been used in herbal medicines and a benzoflavone extract tested in mice has proven to be an effective antianxiety agent and aphrodisiac. Just where there are mice in need of an aphrodisiac is unclear, but it isn't in our house or barn. It also has been effective in treating mouse withdrawal symptoms in drug, alcohol and especially cannabis (the active ingredient in marijuana). Substance abuse hasn't been a problem in Bull Creek mice, although their anxiety from Barb's trapping program may lead to one .
Kevin Firth reports the following: "Carpenter bees absolutely love passionflower and I have noticed that when they nectar at the flower, the three stigmas are in a perfect position--the back of the bee scrapes right along them as the bee nestles in to the center of the flower, which must facilitate pollination" Sounds like they were made for each other.
Video of a passionflower blooming is at Indiana.edu.