The Passion flower

Herb of the month: Passion flower

Medical herbalist Gabriella Clarke introduces passion flower – a stunning looking herb well known for its calming properties.

Passion flower (passiflora incarnata) is widely cultivated throughout Europe and produces wonderful showy flowers with white petals surrounded by a crown of violet filaments. Native to South America, this fast growing climber can grow as high as 9m.

Passion flower is best known for its calming, anti-spasmodic effect and is a popular choice among herbalists as it is thought to cause less drowsiness than many prescription drugs.

The flowers can be dried and used in pot pourri while the fruit oil is often used in cosmetics and as a scent in bath products. The dried leaves are also sometimes combined with hops, camomile and lavender to make a fragrant soothing sleep pillow.

The orange fruit is edible but is not as flavoursome as the purple fruiting variety (passiflora edulis) the type seen in supermarkets.

To find out more about passion flower visit the Herb Fact File.