Herb: Maypops

Latin name: Passiflora incarnata

Family: Passifloraceae (Passion Flower Family)

Medicinal use of Maypops:

Maypops is a valuable sedative and tranquillising herb with a long history of use in North America. It is frequently used in the treatment of insomnia, epilepsy, hysteria etc. The leaves and stems are antispasmodic, astringent, diaphoretic, hypnotic, narcotic, sedative, vasodilator and are also used in the treatment of women's complaints. The plant is harvested after some of the berries have matured and is then dried for later use. It is used in the treatment of insomnia, nervous tension, irritability, neuralgia, irritable bowel syndrome, pre-menstrual tension and vaginal discharges. An extract of the plant depresses the motor nerves of the spinal cord, it is also slightly sedative, slightly reduces blood pressure and increases respiratory rate. The plant contains alkaloids and flavonoids that are an effective non-addictive sedative that does not cause drowsiness. The plant is not recommended for use during pregnancy. A poultice of the roots is applied to boils, cuts, earaches, inflammation etc. The dried plant is exported from America to Europe for medicinal usage. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant.

Description of the plant:


6 m
(20 feet)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Sandy thickets and open soils. Fields, roadsides, fence rows and thickets.

Edible parts of Maypops:

Fruit - raw or cooked in jellies, jams etc. A sweet flavour, it is best when used as a jelly. High in niacin. Fairly large, the fruit is up to 5cm in diameter though it contains relatively little edible pulp and a lot of seeds. Leaves - raw or cooked. Said to be delicious as a cooked vegetable or when eaten in salads. Flowers - cooked as a vegetable or made into syrup.

Propagation of the herb:

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow late winter or early spring in a warm greenhouse. If sown in January and grown on fast it can flower and fruit in its first year. The seed germinates in 1 - 12 months at 20C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. It you are intending to grow the plants outdoors, it is probably best to keep them in the greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Mulch the roots well in late autumn to protect them from the cold. Cuttings of young shoots, 15cm with a heel, in spring. Leaf bud cuttings in spring. Cuttings of fully mature wood in early summer. Takes 3 months. High percentage.

Cultivation of Maypops:

Sandy thickets and open soils. Fields, roadsides, fence rows and thickets.

Known hazards of Passiflora incarnata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.