A large genus of more than 500 species, mostly climbers and almost wholly confined to the New World. The genus Tacsonia is now usually included in it. Only the two species described below are known to be reasonably hardy in the British climate, but there are several others which might be tried in the mildest parts, notably P. antioquiensis.
The name of ‘passion flower’ by which the following and all passifloras are known, was given originally by the Spanish priests in S. America, because of the resemblance their piety led them to detect between the various parts of the flower and the instruments of Christ’s Passion. Dr Masters, the historian of the family, has pointed these out to be as follows: The three stigmas represent the three nails, two for the hands and one for the feet; the five anthers represent the five wounds; the corona represents the crown of thorns or the halo of glory; the five sepals and five petals stand for ten apostles – Peter and Judas being absent; the hand-like leaves and whip-like tendrils represent the hands and scourges of His persecutors.