Passionflower – Religious Sentimentality

23-passionflowerName: Purple Passionflower – Passiflora Edulis

Meaning: Religious superstition

The most striking thing about the passionflower apart from its stylised and slightly alien appearance, is the extent to which it has been co-opted as a metaphor to explain a wide number of religious and cultural ideas.

First, 10 points for you if you knew that in Christian theology the ‘Passion’ in Passionflower refers not to garden variety lust, but to the Passion of Christ, that short and traumatic period between Christ’s entry to Jerusalem and his betrayal and crucifixion.

15th and 16th century Spanish Christian missionaries used the parts of the flower to illustrate the passion story as follows, (thanks Wikipedia!):

In India, it is also used to illustrate a religious idea as it colloquially called “Paanch Paandav”. The five anthers are interpreted as the five Pandavas, the divine Krishna is at the centre.

In less religiously charged interpretations, the distinctive shape of the flower leads to it being called some version of Clock Flower in such disparate cultures as Israel, Greece and Japan. In Turkey, the shape of the flowers have reminded people of Rota Fortunae, or the Wheel of Fortune.