Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Spurred Butterfly Pea
Centrosema virginianum

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Centrosema (sen-TROH-sem-uh) (Info)
Species: virginianum (vir-jin-ee-AN-um) (Info)

10 members have or want this plant for trade.

Vines and Climbers

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

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There are a total of 19 photos.
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10 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive sladeofsky On Jan 23, 2015, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

What kind of Butterfly Pea do you have? Info from
Clitoria Mariana is known by some as “Butterfly Pea”, and Centrosema virginianum as “Spurred Butterfly Pea.” The 2 Native American flowering vines are easily confused. A spur is found at the base of the petals of Centrosema. Another key characteristic that can help is the relative length of the corolla tube. Clitoria mariana has a long visible corolla tube – usually as long or longer than the keel and wing petals. Centrosema virginianum, on the other hand, has a short corolla tube that is generally invisible as you look at the frontside of the blossom.

Positive Laurenpearson17 On Aug 25, 2014, Laurenpearson17 from Birmingham, AL wrote:

I found this growing throughout our ivy in our front yard. It is really a beautiful vine. I am learning more about how to move it because I would like to see if it will climb. I have tons of it.

Positive Buttoneer On Jun 4, 2013, Buttoneer from Carlisle, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I started my seeds, which were a gift from a DG-er, by gently nicking & soaking overnight in warm water, then wrapping in a moist napkin and putting in a ziploc bag until they sprouted, then planting in potting soil. They are up now & quite delicate & enchanting. I have read everybody's post & will keep them potted but I might repot them in 1/2 sand & 1/2 potting soil. The pictures remind me of Clitoriana mariana, but I remember I did collect seeds from that plant in Central Va so this might be Clitoria mariana. I'll take a pix of the seedlings for you for correct identification. Either way, either plant is enchanting and I hope I can grow them to blooming size.

Positive smith889169 On Aug 16, 2010, smith889169 from Claxton, GA wrote:

I live in SE Georgia. I found this vine growing in a partially shaded area in gravel. This area is very dry. The soil is several inches below the gravel so it must be a tough plant. The leaves on mine are more elongated and narrow than those pictured on this site.

Positive PammiePi On Jun 27, 2010, PammiePi from Green Cove Springs, FL wrote:

Pretty little wild flower found growing throughout NE Florida. I'll find these plants frequently along roadsides or in shaded areas of the woods, though sometimes growing up a fence in part-sun. Seems to like damp places. I love stumbling across these on my walks through the woods.

Positive podster On Oct 11, 2009, podster from Deep East Texas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This pretty vine is native to my east TX woods. I found the seeds a bit difficult to start. After soaking in water for a period of time, I was able to start a few from seed. The Butterfly Pea vine is a perennial in this zone. It will do well in ground or in a container.

Positive JeanneTX On Jun 8, 2006, JeanneTX from Willis, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I had never seen nor heard of this plant and found it growing wild in my shade garden..must love the filtered light and moisture there...Jeanne

Positive PudgyMudpies On Dec 19, 2004, PudgyMudpies from Stockton, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love this vine, the flowers are so pretty but the foliage does not make a statement. I agree it should be planted with other vines, letting the flowers make the impression.

Some additional Info that I found on this plant:
It is listed as a perennial although I have not had it return for me in zone 9. I always have to replant. It is SAID to be hardy to zone 6. It is in flower from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees. (my carpenter bees LOVE them) It can also fix Nitrogen.
It prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) well-drained soil and tolerates poor soil. It prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soil. It cannot handle shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Can be grown without support for a sprawling groundcover.
Pre-soak seeds for 12 hours in warm water before planting.

Positive Maudie On Oct 17, 2003, Maudie from Harvest, AL wrote:

I agree with bonjule about planting this with other vines.
The foliage is inconspicuous but the blooms will be outstanding against the foliage of another vine. Maudie

Positive bonjule On Aug 24, 2003, bonjule from Destin, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

In Florida, I saw painted lady butterflies using this plant for nectar. Where it is allowed to climb on another plant, it excels.

Neutral tiG On Sep 18, 2001, tiG from Newnan, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

A slender trailing or clasping vine with purple flattened pea flowers (3/4 - 1 1/2") with a small spur at the base, single or in small clusters. The flat part of the flower is pointing groundward unlike most of the pea-family. The leaves are alternate, divided into 3 leaflets ovate to lanceolate, each 1 - 2 1/2" long.
Flowers July-August. Likes open, usually dry, woodlands and fields, pine forest edges.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Jones, Alabama
Stockton, California
Altamonte Springs, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Deland, Florida
Destin, Florida
Fort White, Florida
Green Cove Springs, Florida
Claxton, Georgia
Barbourville, Kentucky
Independence, Louisiana
Brookeville, Maryland
Madison, Mississippi
Sturgis, Mississippi
Bessemer City, North Carolina
Millfield, Ohio
Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Seneca, South Carolina
Johnson City, Tennessee
Westmoreland, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Beaumont, Texas
Houston, Texas
Paige, Texas
Plano, Texas
Willis, Texas

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