Passion Flower in Art History

In art historical terms, the Passion Flower has appeared in many prints and paintings, including the mysterious painting of Madonna and Child by Joos van Cleve. Flowers in painting have been used for symbolism for many years and understanding what a flower means will give clues to what a painting portrays. The inclusion of a Passion Flower in this Madonna and Child painting refers to the Crucifixion and the Passion of Christ story in which the Virgin Mary shed all her tears. It is also a symbol of the purity of the Christian faith.

This painting was not the first record of the Passion Flower in art. The Moche culture of northern Peru has portrayed the plant and its fruit on ceramic-ware in reference to the banana Passion Flower.

Passion Flower in Medical History

Passion Flower Religious Symbolism

Catholic missionaries connected certain aspects of the flower with Christian beliefs. Generally, various characteristics of the Passion Flower have been tied to the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ as well as the Passion of Christ. The latter association led the missionaries to name the flowers “Passion Flowers.”

A number of floral characteristics have been assigned with distinct symbolic traits. For example, the ten petals of the flower represent the ten apostles in Christianity excluding St. Peter and Judas. The vines of the plant symbolize the whips that were used during the flagellation of Christ. One of the major characteristics is the hundreds of filaments on the flower that symbolize the Crown of Thorns. The five anthers are associated with the five sacred wounds of Christ. The flower contains three stigmas that reflect the three nails that were used for Christ’s hands and feet during his Crucifixion. There is a floral component that resembles a chalice-like ovary that has been suggested to symbolize the Holy Grail. In terms of color symbolism, the flowers of Passion Vines are generally a blue and white color which can represent the heavens and purity.

The religious symbolism and associations that have been brought to attention once gave the missionaries faith and comfort for their efforts in spreading Christianity to the indigenous cultures of South America. The Jesuit Missionaries transported color drawings and dried version of the plant back to their country where a Spanish herbalist named Nicolas Monardes was the first to document the plant and write about the qualities of the flower, indicating that it is a powerful plant and that it carries a symbolic relationship with Christianity. In the New World, the Passion Flower became recognized as a mystical one with certain powers.

Passion Flower in Art History

Passion Flowers in History

Origins of the Passion Flower

The Passion Flower plant originated in South America and is a tropical vine that enjoys a warm climate. Nine species of this plant have actually been found in the United States and some are found in Australia, Southern Asia, and even New Zealand.

Traditionally, the Passion Fruit was grown by the Maya and Aztecs for food as well as its sedative qualities, which may have been used for ritualistic purposes. The Native Americans in North America called this fruit “maracock” and used it as food and medicine.

The Passion Flower was discovered in the sixteenth century by Spanish explorers during the colonization period of Latin America and South America. These Spanish explorers were in Peru when they first came across the Passion Flower. The Catholic missionaries were significant figures in the quest for colonization in this region and these missionaries immediately recognized the symbolism that the flowers of the passion vine had.

Passion Flower Religious Symbolism

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Pest Control

Natural pest control for your passion vines. A passion vine can fill your yard with Gulf fritillary butterflies, but sometimes you can have too many. The Gulf fritillary lays its eggs on passion vines and the caterpillars can quickly defoliate a vine if there aren't enough predatory insects around to keep them under control. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a chemical free, naturally occurring soil bacteria that can be sprinkled on the leaves of your passion vine will kill the caterpillars while leaving the beneficial insects alone.

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Pink Passion Flowers

Pink passion flower seeds and vines for sale from around the world. Many of the pink passiflora varieties produce sweet, delicious fruit. You can enjoy these lovely tropical-esque vines in your own yard. In the Southwest desert states of the U.S., passion vines are considered water saving xeriscape plants. You can grow these lovely pink passion flowers and enjoy delicious passion fruit too.

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Red Passion Flowers

Red passion flower vines have the same care requirements of most other passion vines. The flowers have beautiful red petals and are truly striking in the garden.

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LADY MARGARET Red Burgundy Passion Flower Vine Fragrant Live Plant Passiflora
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