Passion Flower Meaning, Myths, and Symbolism

Passion flowers (Passiflora) are deeply symbolic and meaningful flowers with a history dating back centuries. They were initially named in respect of the ‘Passion’ of Jesus Christ by Roman Catholic priests during the 16th Century. In the language of flowers, passion flowers carry meanings associated with calm, strength, and purity.

Passion Flower Meaning in the Language of Flowers

History and Origins

Passion Flowers (Passiflora) form part of the Passifloraceae family. They are also commonly known as passion vines. There are over 550 species of Passiflora known today. 

The Passion Flowers was first discovered in Peru in the mid to late 1500s by the early Spanish Missionaries. At the time, the monastic scholar Giacomo Bosio referred to the flower as “La Flor de las cinco Llagas” translated to English as ‘The Flower With The Five Wounds.’ 

Each part of the flower was ascribed a specific meaning and sentiment as well, such as: 

  • The five sepals and petals represent the ten apostles during the Passion of Jesus Christ. 
  • The flower’s inherent purple color is representative of lent. 
  • The three-pointed leaves represent the Holy Trinity.

Passion Flower Symbolism in Christianity

Passion Flowers are said to represent the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. There are five petals and five sepals on Passion Flowers. These represent the ten faithful apostles who stood by Jesus in the period leading up to the crucifixion.

The Corona filaments that grow in a ring above the sepals and petals symbolize the crown of thorns. Three stigmas are said to represent the three nails that were used to hang Jesus on the cross. The five anthers represent the five wounds Jesus had when He was crucified.

The maypop fruit that passion flowers produce is also significant to Christians. It symbolizes the world Jesus left behind after He sacrificed Himself on the cross. Some don’t realize that Passion Flowers will eventually produce fruit if the flowers are left alone.

This unexpected result is similar to the hope of a new world after the death of Jesus. It’s a beautiful testimony to the labor of love that Jesus had for the world, just as the labor of love the Passion Flower’s caregiver had while tirelessly taking care of the plant.

Other Passion Flower Meanings

For non-Christians, the Passion Flower still has symbolic meaning in the language of flowers. Passion Flowers are a host for butterflies, which symbolize hope and care for delicate beings. Some people also look at the color of the Passion Flowers to determine the meaning of an individual plan.

For example, blue Passion Flowers are associated with a calm existence, while purple Passion Flowers are a sign of regal strength. The white portions of Passion Flowers are considered a symbol of purity despite challenges.

Suitable Gifting Occasions

A blooming passion flower surrounded by deep green foliage

Giving someone a Passion Flower, whether a starter plant, cut flowers, or fruit, is a beautiful testament to your care for them. Just about any occasion is suitable for Passion Flowers, but people tend to give them out more around Easter time as a symbol of hope and Jesus’ love for the world.

Fun Facts About Passion Flowers

Passion flowers are fascinating plants with a wealth of intriguing characteristics. Here are some fun facts about these captivating flowers:

  1. Diverse Genus: There are over 550 species of Passiflora, making it one of the largest genera of flowering plants. This diversity leads to various appearances, from vines and shrubs to trees and herbaceous plants.
  2. Medicinal Uses: Various parts of the passion flower plant have been used in traditional medicine for their sedative and anxiolytic properties. They are often used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and certain forms of pain.
  3. Attracts Wildlife: Passion flowers are not only beautiful but also functional in the garden, attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies.
  4. Complex Flowers: Passion flowers are known for their intricate, multi-layered flowers, which can range in size from 1 inch to several inches in diameter. Their complex structure is not only visually stunning but also serves to attract pollinators.
  5. Cultural Icon: The passion flower has become an icon in many cultures, featured in art, literature, and even on postage stamps, celebrating its unique beauty and rich symbolism.

The Final Word

Passion Flowers have long held symbolic meaning and association in Christianity thanks to the early Spanish Missionaries who discovered these beautiful flowering plants on their expeditions to South America. Today, Passion Flowers are a beautiful addition to an outdoor garden in zones 5 through 9 in the United States. It’s also an excellent option for those in other zones who don’t mind bringing it in during winter.

Further reading: Discover 30 amazing types of exotic flowers.

Editorial Director | | Full Bio

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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