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Maypop uses and identification

Updated on June 19, 2013
Maypop flower
Maypop flower
Passionflower fruit aka maypop
Passionflower fruit aka maypop

Not just another weed

The maypop- also known as the passionflower, scientifically named passiflora incarnata, is a wild vine that grows throughout the eastern United States. It is a unique looking plant with three-fingered leaves and intricate bright purple flowers that bloom in the summer. It grows in near or in fields and in recently turned earth. The maypop is generally considered a pest due to it's quick growth and hardiness, though it is classified as a wildflower. Various members of it's genus passiflora can be found throughout the world. It's South American cousin is the bearer of passion fruit.

However pesky it may be, don't be too quick to kill it if it pops up in your yard. The fruit it produces can be eaten and when it grows with plenty of water it is quite tasty (as the many animals than love it can attest) and the whole plant has sedative properties that have been used throughout history to treat sleeplessness and hysteria, and it's still in use today.

inside of seedpod
inside of seedpod

As a food

Though the whole plant is referred to as maypop, this is really the name of the fruit, an egg shaped and sized seed pod. The fruit is eaten by tearing open the seedpods and squeezing the pulp inside your mouth to release the juice, then spitting out the seeds. Think of it as eating a pomegranate. If the plant grew in an unusually dry environment the fruit will be dry inside and not worth eating. Fruit is ready when it softens and begins to turn yellow.

As medicine

The roots,flowers, and leaves of the maypop, or passionflower, contain natural MAO inhibitors that serve as antidepressants. The greatest concentration of these are in the roots. In addition to the sedative effects the plant is also used intensify the effects of certain mind altering drugs. In modern times the plant material has been scientifically shown to help humans with different anxiety disorders.

If you found a maypop growing wild, would you eat it?

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    • profile image

      Nena Jones 13 months ago

      Neat! Have them growing where we live, though most are gone by now. Husband says he ate them growing up! Thing is, I have I have Essential Tremor of my hands. Have just read of a medicine with this in it that works for this. Anyway, I will watching for this come next year! My husband is shocked! Is there available for us a book that would identify these type things for us? Sure would like to have one!

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      Analie Valley 2 years ago

      When my brothers and i werevyounger, we use to pick them and throw them on the ground. I was always smiling when I use to see them. I just love the way they sounded. I never knew you could eat them. I found out over 3O yrs later they are eatible.

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      Kasey m 4 years ago

      Haven't eaten one is a few years but just found one and wanted to make sure I remembered the right part to eat, thanks!

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      Jennifer 4 years ago

      I have them on the side of my house and what started as one vine is now trying to completely take over the entire flower bed that goes from the front to the back of our home. Yes, the flower is cool, but oh what a headache this vine is in our yard...grows so quickly that it strangles everything and is now coming up in our yard....any ideas how to get rid of it without killing the plants and grass around it?

    • rick combe profile image

      rick combe 4 years ago from USA

      Keep your eyes peeled as they can pop up anywhere, especially on freshly cleared or plowed land. Here in zone 8, as of 6-12-13, they have yet to flower and may be a little harder to spot.

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      Brenda 4 years ago

      Growing up as a kid we use to eat them, had forgotten about them until now. I still live here in the same area in Tuscaloosa but have not seen any.

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      KatyLynninNC 5 years ago

      my sister and I used to make tea sets out of them...didn't know until recently that you could eat them

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      I haven't thought of Maypops in years. When I was a kid growing up in Georgia they were all over, and we kids ate them. I haven't seen any growing here in S. Fl.

      Great Hub. Interesting. I voted as such.

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      Alissa 5 years ago

      We have one plant growing wild in our backyard. The flowers take good pics for contests. Never eaten the fruit though.

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      Chris 5 years ago

      I had these in my yard when I was growing up. My brother and I would eat them and I can still remember the flavor. I didn't know that much about them then but was told they are safe to eat. Many of the "weeds" that grow in my area of the world are edible. I found out that we could eat them after putting firecrackers in them to use as soft hand grenades to throw at each-other. My step dad caught us doing hat and asked why we were wasting the fruit instead of eating it. I learned a lot about eating wild plants during that time in my life.

    • rick combe profile image

      rick combe 5 years ago from USA

      More than "stashed", I have two plants in my yard. Well, had, they were through for the year so I mowed them. But they'll be back next year.

    • goego profile image

      goego 5 years ago from Loserland

      never heard of any stashed???

      cool article, great pics and interaction. A+

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 6 years ago from America

      Interesting never knew this about the Maypop. They don't grow here but would not mind having one in my flower garden. Good Hub.

    • rick combe profile image

      rick combe 6 years ago from USA

      Thank you, glad you liked it!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Interesting overview of the Maypop--thanks!