Our friends Marcy and Alex have the most amazing passion flower vine growing on a beautiful handmade trellis off their deck. I’ve taken multiple photos, particularly this summer, and just recently thought to look up a little about them.
I remember the first time I ever saw one of these blooms in person was at a visit to the Oregon Garden (a worthy trip, especially to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House). I was stunned at this flower’s unusual structure and unique striped color combination. Pretty unforgettable.
Turns out the word “passion” doesn’t refer to the romantic kind at all like I’d thought. Instead, according to wikipedia:
“Passion” does not refer to love, but to the Passion of Christ on the cross. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries discovered this flower and adopted its unique physical structures as symbols of Crucifixion. For example: the 72 radial filaments (or corona) represent the Crown of Thorns. The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles. The top 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the lower 5 anthers represent the 5 wounds. The flower has been given names related to this symbolism throughout Europe since that time.