Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Clitoria ternatea Linnaeus

Species:C. ternatea
Common Names:Blue Pea, Butterfly Pea


This is a slender vine with a strong woody rootstock. Stems are slender, 0.5-3 m long. Leaves are alternate, simple pinnate, with 5 or 7, 1-7x 0.3-4 cm leaflets. Flowers are bisexual, solitary or in pairs and blue or white. Pods are flattened, 6-12 x 0.7-1.2 cm, splitting open to release the 8-10 seeds.

Read more about the Fabales order.
Read more about the Fabaceae family.


Of uncertain origin, it is found throughout the tropics.


Found throughout Singapore.

Human Uses

Planted as a forage that is harvested through grazing or by cut-and-carry. It also makes a good quality hay but difficult to handle due to its viny nature. The blue flowers are used to produce a blue dye used in colouring glutinous rice cakes. In traditional medicine the leaves are used to treat pimples and pustules; water from the soaked leaves used as an eye wash in mild conjunctivitis; and roots used as a purgative.


Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

Mannetje, L. ‘t & R. M. Jones (eds.) 1992. Plant resources of South-East Asia - No. 4: Forages. Pudoc, Wageningen.  300 pp.

Ng, F. S. P. 2006. Tropical horticulture and gardening. Kuala Lumpur: Clearwater Publication. 361 pp.

Wee, Y. C. 1990. A guide to the wayside trees of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. (2nd ed.) 160 pp.

Wee, Y. C. 1992.  A guide to medicinal plants. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.

Wee, Y. C. 2005. Plants that heal, thrill and kill. SNP Reference, Singapore. 172pp.

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