While clearing brush this week, my son and I accidentally cut a maypop vine. I nearly cried when the 40-foot chain of intricate purple flowers fell onto the driveway. The vine had been so high up in thick bushes that we did not see the blooms or recognize the vine until it was already cut.
Working as fast as first responders, we gathered the vine and took it to a fence line in the back of the house, dug a shallow trench to carefully lay it in, poured topsoil on top, and watered it — but not before picking the beautiful blossoms and taking some cuttings to root.
If luck is with us, Mother Nature will forgive our mistake and our vine will take root and cover the fence.
There are specific moments in our lives that are magical and stay with us always. I remember the first time I ever saw maypops in bloom as a child. My parents and I were on a dirt road in Russell County, and Mama pointed out the stunningly beautiful flowers in a ditch. Daddy stopped the car and let me get a closer look at the blooms that resembled tiny purple ballerinas dancing along a county road. It was love at first sight.
Later, I learned that the plant my family called “maypop” is Passiflora incarnata, or “passion flower,” because of the crucifixion symbolism early Christians perceived to be in the structure of its bloom: the petals being the disciples; the five stamens representing Jesus’s wounds; the stigma being the nails; and the filaments at the end of the sepals symbolizing the crown of thorns. The sweet odor of the passionflower was associated with the spices the Holy women prepared to anoint the body of Christ.
Although some varieties contain a bit of cyanide, Passiflora is sometimes used as an ingredient in sedatives or anti-anxiety medicines. The fruit is also used to make tea and jelly. Its beauty and sweet fragrance alone are enough to calm my stress, bring me joy, and reaffirm my belief in the magic that surrounds us.
Marian Carcache welcomes
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