Regularity: Regularly occurring
Distribution: In disturbed areas, such as pastures or roadsides. Native to Africa but found widely distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics of the New World. Also on Vieques, St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and Tortola.
Public Forests: Guánica and Río Abajo.
Solitary or in clusters; deep blue, occasionally white. Flowering from March-May.
A linear, oblong pod, compressed, apically beaked; seeds 10-15, reniform. Fruiting throughout the year.
Branchlets appressed-tomentose. Bracteoles very large, persistent.
Clitoria ternatea L., Sp. Pl. 753. 1753.
Woody vine, twining, attainig 1-3 m in length. Stems slender, cylindrical, with lines of minute trichomes. Leaves alternate, 5-7-foliolate; leaflets opposite, 1.5-4.5 × 1-3.5 cm, elliptical or less frequently ovate or oblong, chartaceous, the apex rounded, obtuse, sometimes retuse or mucronate, the base obtuse, the margins entire; upper surface dark green, dull, puberulent, with the midvein sunken; lower surface pale green, dull, puberulent, with prominent venation; rachis 2-7 cm long; petiolules minute, pubescent; petioles 2-4 cm long, pubescent, with the base thickened; stipels filiform, ca. 1.5 mm long; stipules lanceolate, pubescent, ca. 4 mm long. Flowers solitary, on short peduncles; pedicel ca. 1 cm long, pubescent, with a pair of bracteoles in the middle. Calyx campanulate, 1.5-2.2 cm long, green, puberulent, the lobes lanceolate-ovate, 8-10 mm long, with the midvein conspicuous; corolla blue-violet, the standard broadly ovate, 3.5-5 cm long, retuse, with the base pale yellow and the center pale yellow inside. Legume 9-11 × ca. 1 cm, oblong, ribbed along both margins, the apex acuminate. Seeds numerous, 5-6 mm long, oblong, flattened, dark brown.
Phenology: Flowering and fruiting throughout the year.
Status: Exotic, cultivated and naturalized, relatively common.
Commentary: According to Fantz (1990), the following two varieties are found in Puerto Rico: Clitoria ternatea var. ternatea with simple flowers (only one standard per flower) and C. ternatea var. pleniflora Fantz with double flowers (4-5 standards per flower).
Selected Specimens Examined: Acevedo-Rdgz., P. 2623; 5236; 5392; 11489;Axelrod, F. 6378; Britton, N.L. 4875; Goll, G.P. 47; 502; Heller, A.A. 6224; Hioram, B. s.n.; Sargent, F.H. 272; Shafer, J.A. 2358; Sintenis, P. 825; 1639; Stevenson, J.A. 1835; 2244.
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Clitoria ternatea
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Clitoria ternatea
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Clitoria ternatea, common names including butterfly-pea, blue-pea, and cordofan-pea, is a plant species belonging to the Fabaceae family. The flowers of this vine have the shape of human female genitals, hence the Latin name of the genus "Clitoria", from "clitoris". (Synonyms: Clitoris principissae.).
Names in other languages include bunga telang (Malay).
This plant is native to tropical equatorial Asia, but has been introduced to Africa, Australia and America.
It is a perennial herbaceous plant, with elliptic, obtuse leaves. It grows as a vine or creeper, doing well in moist, neutral soil. The most striking feature about this plant are its vivid deep blue flowers; solitary, with light yellow markings. They are about 4 cm long by 3 cm wide. There are some varieties that yield white flowers.
The fruits are 5 – 7 cm long, flat pods with 6 to 10 seeds in each pod. They are edible when tender.
It is grown as an ornamental plant and as a revegetation species (e.g., in coal mines in Australia), requiring little care when cultivated. As a legume, its roots form a symbiotic association with soil bacteria known as rhizobia, which transform atmospheric N2 into a plant usable form, therefore, this plant is also used to improve soil quality through the decomposition of N-rich tissue.
In Southeast Asia the flowers are used to colour food. In Malay cooking, an aqueous extract is used to colour glutinous rice for kuih ketan (also known as pulut tai tai in Peranakan/Nyonya cooking) and in nyonya chang. In Kelantan it is used to colour white rice for Nasi Kerabu. In Thailand, a syrupy blue drink is made called nam dok anchan (น้ำดอกอัญชัน), it is sometimes consumed with a drop of sweet lime juice to increase acidity and turn the juice into pink-purple. In Burmese and Thai cuisine the flowers are also dipped in batter and fried.
In animal tests the methanolic extract of Clitoria ternatea roots demonstrated nootropic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant and antistress activity. The active constituents include tannins, resins, starch, taraxerol and taraxerone.
Recently, several biologically active peptides called cliotides have been isolated from the heat-stable fraction of Clitoria ternatea extract. Cliotides belong to the cyclotides family and activities studies show that cliotides display potent antimicrobial activity against E. coli, K. pneumonia, P. aeruginosa and cytotoxicity against Hela cells. These peptides have potential to be leading compounds for the development of novel antimicrobial and anti-cancer agents.
In traditional medicine: Owing to its similarity to a human body part, this plant has been ascribed properties affecting the same (a phenomenon also found in connection with the mandrake, among other plants). It was used traditionally in an attempt to treat sexual ailments, like infertility and gonorrhea, to control menstrual discharge, and also as an aphrodisiac. This practice aligns with an ancient belief recorded in the Doctrine of Signatures.
- Pharmacopia Indica Awl
- Mukherjee PK, Kumar V, Kumar NS, Heinrich M"The Ayurvedic medicine Clitoria ternatea-From traditional use to scientific assessment." J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Sep 20;
- Jain, N; Ohal, C.C; Shroff, S.K; Bhutada, R.H; Somani, R.S; Kasture, V.S; Kasture, S.B (2003). "Clitoria ternatea and the CNS". Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 75 (3): 529. doi:10.1016/S0091-3057(03)00130-8.
- Nguyen, GK; Zhang, S; Nguyen, NT; Nguyen, PQ; Chiu, MS; Hardjojo, A; Tam, JP. (Jul 2011). "Discovery and characterization of novel cyclotides originated from chimeric precursors consisting of albumin-1 chain a and cyclotide domains in the Fabaceae family". J Biol Chem. 286 (27): 24275–87. doi:10.1074/jbc.m111.229922.
- Nguyen, Kien Truc Giang; Zhang, S; Nguyen, N. T.; Nguyen, P. Q.; Chiu, M. S.; Hardjojo, A.; Tam, J. P. (8 July 2011). "Discovery and Characterization of Novel Cyclotides Originated from Chimeric Precursors Consisting of Albumin-1 Chain a and Cyclotide Domains in the Fabaceae Family". Journal of Biological Chemistry 286 (27): 24275–24287. doi:10.1074/jbc.M111.229922. PMC 3129208. PMID 21596752. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
- Fantz, Paul R. (1991). "Ethnobotany of Clitoria (Leguminosae)". Economic Botany (New York Botanical Garden Press) 45 (4): 511–20. doi:10.1007/BF02930715. JSTOR 4255394.
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