Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Butterfly Pea, Blue Pea Vine
Clitoria ternatea

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Clitoria (klih-TOH-ree-uh) (Info)
Species: ternatea (tern-AH-tee-uh) (Info)

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

53 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Vines and Climbers

Unknown - Tell us

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Medium Blue
Dark Blue

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost
Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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By Dinu
Thumbnail #1 of Clitoria ternatea by Dinu

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There are a total of 35 photos.
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26 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive prakashbabu On Aug 31, 2014, prakashbabu from coimbatore
India wrote:

i want to know any other colours than blue,white available if amy one can find red or yellow please let me know

Positive sueroderus On Aug 5, 2014, sueroderus from Bluffton, SC wrote:

Beautiful vine as others have already said. It is one of the host plants for the Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus). and this week a female layed eggs on my plant. In my zone 8b it will probably not come back unless we have a mild winter. So far I have not had seeds, but will keep hoping.

Positive megcan On Oct 5, 2013, megcan from Fort Smith, AR wrote:

I was introduced to this flowering vine in Thailand. We were served Butterfly Pea in the form of cool aid. It was very refreshing. We were then told that it was good for high cholesterol and the flower could be eaten. We tried one and it had a mild sweet taste.
When we came home to Arkansas, I planted two seeds after soaking them until a small root appeared. I was pleased to have a flowering vine growing up a trellis in about 6 weeks. Since then I have shared this mysterious plant with my friends. We have made a drink with it, added it in salads, added it in cookie dough and eaten the flowers picked fresh off the vine.
I only knew the Thai word for this plant, OnChuen, until a Thai couple came to visit. I asked if they were familiar with OnChuen and they said yes. As it happened they had a language ap on their iPhone and was able to translate from Thai the name of this beautiful flower.
I have placed this plant outside my bedroom and it brings me
joy everyday in memories of Thailand and in the fact that it has high nutritional value.

Positive yingthai On Sep 5, 2013, yingthai from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

I grew mine from seeds that I bought from a U.S. sellers on eBay. They're producing beautiful flowers right now. You can use them in salads or grind them with a little water and use the liquid as natural food color.

Positive Rhensrude On Aug 20, 2013, Rhensrude from Everett, WA wrote:

I live in Everett, WA, about 30 miles north of Seattle. I purchased the seeds from Thompson and Morgan. I sowed them under grow lights with bottom heat in April. I noticed my first bloom tonight with more buds on the way.
The vines were planted in a large container with a trellis to climb. We've had a warm summer. The container is on the east side of our house.
I will plan on starting them earlier next year. The flower is a beautiful blue.

Positive eslwoman On Jun 22, 2013, eslwoman from Victoria
Canada wrote:

Through this wonderful site, I have just discovered the name and data on a few seedlings I have been calling my "Magical Mystery Plants." I knew they were vines because of their twining nature, but never mind that boring stuff--on with the story!

Earlier this spring, while I was down in the basement searching for one garden implement or another, I espied in a dark corner a crinkled piece of paper, much yellowed and somewhat brittle. When I unwrapped it, I found a few pods and several seeds obviously "beanish" in appearance. The only information written on the page was a woman's name and telephone number--and not a telephone number code from either Canada or the US. Hmm.

Curious as most gardeners are, and always up for a challenge, I planted five of the seeds. Within a short period of time, three seeds were up and healthy as could be. But I didn't recognize them, nor could any other fellow gardeners. Then it hit me. The name of the person on the paper was clearly Latina (I speak and teach Spanish), and the phone prefix was definitely Mexican.

These were the seeds I was given 23 years ago (!) after chatting with the gardener at the hotel we were staying at in San Miguel, a charming town in the mountains north of Mexico City.

It all came back to me! I raced to the drawer where I store my journals, and voila--there it was, a travel diary dated "Summer, 1990." The hotel gardener who gave me the seeds did not know the name of the plant, so she wrote down the name (Violeta) and telephone number of someone who would know. I admit I have been wondering who this Violeta is, and if she still resides at that number? I could call and find out, I suppose...another mystery for another day.

Nevertheless--putting all mysterious persons aside--there you have it. Viable for 23 years, these seeds!! I have heard incredible (but true) tales of seed viability, but now I have proof. Moreover, now on the trail (as it were), I headed to Wikipedia for some more information on this plant. There I learned the following:

" has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine "as a memory enhancer, nootropic, antistress, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, tranquilizing and sedative agent.[1] 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 nonya chang. In Thailand, a syrupy blue drink is made called nam dok anchan. It is sometimes consumed with a drop of 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.[2] 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[3] 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 lead compound for the development of novel antimicrobial and anti-cancer agents.[4]"

(End Wikipedia quote.)

Coincidentally, I have suffered from a mental health disorder for years, and whether the info on the plant is true or not, I found the related Wikipedia data of great interest.

If someone out there has a similar story about such surprising seed viability, please write in to tell me your tale. After my vines have grown, I'll send in some pics.

Thanks very much "Dave" and all other commentators, as if it were not for this site, it would have taken me considerably more time to understand the culture and habits of this amazing plant.

Positive PaulaSFL On Jan 21, 2013, PaulaSFL from Stuart, FL wrote:

Wonderful vine that gives color to a winter garden in Florida. Attracts butterflies, bees and is easy to grow.

Positive Bharat_Sanghavi On Oct 15, 2012, Bharat_Sanghavi from Trenton, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

In India, Butterfly Pea is commonly known as Gokarn or Kajli. i have this vine in my private garden since four years. and at present, it has reached height of 9 meters by creeping on a nearby tree. now all i do is water it once a day. during rainy season, i avoid watering lest it may rot.

once the Butterfly Pea flower dries itself on the vine, it turns into a bean pod and seeds from these pods can be planted for a fresh vine. if the soil is favorable, the plant reseeds itself.

Positive Mtn_CrazyLady On Aug 20, 2012, Mtn_CrazyLady from Attalla, AL wrote:

The Butterfly Pea grows in places I cant get the grass to grow here. It is pretty (my Mom loves it), and I don't have to take care of it.

Positive acemy On Jun 18, 2012, acemy from Brandon, MS wrote:

I found this vine growing in the woods behind my house in Mississippi. It took awhile to find out what it was.

Positive rolfkjo On Dec 18, 2011, rolfkjo from nong khai
Thailand wrote:

There is also a white clitorea butterfly.. I have it!

Positive koa On Aug 16, 2011, koa from Haiku, HI wrote:

This is one tough little vine! I found it growing wild along the side of the road outside of the central landfill in Kahului, Hawaii (on the island of Maui). The rainfall there is about 18 to 19 inches a year. Everything else around it had turned brown and died from lack of water. This little plant was green and blooming! I tried to dig it up, but the ground was as hard as cement. I half pried and half yanked and got a few small clumps of the plant. I separated the plants at the roots and planted several in pots. They grew! I also took some of the seedpods and tried to grow the plant from seed, though the pods were still green. They didnt grow.

I did have the same issue as bijoux2 had with yellowing leaves and dieback on a couple of the plants, but I increased the water and fertilizer and the yellow leaves greened up and the plant began to thrive again.

Positive agardener100 On Apr 4, 2010, agardener100 from Muscat
Oman wrote:

Easy to grow vigorous annual or perennial in frost free areas. Propagate from seed, plants bloom in 7-10 weeks from germination. Easy to germinate from seed, soak the seed over night, germination from 7-10 days usually 100%. Great for quick fence cover. The plants become leggy quickly so pinch out the terminal buds to keep the plant bushy and flowering where you can see it. Like all pea plants the roots fix nitrogen and improved the soil fertility. Can be grown as a green manure and dug into the soil after 2-3 months. Its edible and can also be used to feed animals. In frost areas collect the seed to replant the next year. Tolerant of a wide range of soils and including alkaline soils. In very hot climates 45C, 113F it appreciates some shade from the afternoon sun.
Anne Muscat, Oman, Middle east

Neutral bijoux2 On Nov 12, 2009, bijoux2 from Hollywood, FL wrote:

I purchased 3 of these plants (double flowers) from Home Depot to grow on 3' x 9' trellises. While they started out growing beautifully up the trellis, certain parts of the plant are now wilting, turning yellow and starting to die. Other parts of the plant are still thriving with dark green leaves and an abundance of flowers. I have been cutting away the dying parts of the plant, but I don't now why this happening. I want these plants to cover the trellises, but I am having a lot difficulty. Thinking I should replace them with something else, but they are so beautiful (the parts that are thriving) I don't want to remove them. Any suggestions? Thank you.

Positive khabbab On Jul 13, 2009, khabbab from lahore
Pakistan (Zone 10b) wrote:

It is more of a shrub than vine here in lahore Pakistan. It blooms from June till October. I have one with double blooms and blue color. I am growing it in a clay pot. This is my first experience with this vine. Its leaves are very beautiful. It is fast growing vine. it has reduced flowers in extreme summer heat of over 100F specially in full sun. It is called "Neelofar" locally.

Positive cynixeyes On Sep 10, 2008, cynixeyes from Bangkok
Thailand wrote:

Edible purple food dyes are also extracted from the butterfly pea flower ("anchan" flower) in Thailand, and used in making desserts.

To make your own purple dye from butterfly pea flowers in the Thai way, begin by placing a flower in the bottom of a small glass. Add a little bit of water, then push and grind at the flower with a spoon (the way you would use a mortar and pestle). The water will appear blue at first.

Then, slowly add a few drops of an edible acid (such as lemon or lime juice) until the solution turns purple.

When added to food, the result is a beautiful and demure shade of light purple. Enjoy!

Positive ETexChuckC On Sep 3, 2007, ETexChuckC from Point, TX wrote:

I found the Butterfly Pea last year growing under a Cedar out in the woods. Until recently though a total mystery flower. I have a walking path around the woods and past where It's growing. I hadn't noticed it prior to last year (2006). I searched and asked around but nada. A week ago, I sent a picture around to my family and my daughter replied -- "it looks like..." And voila, I did a search, found Dave's site and it's no longer a mystery. The soil out here, 60 miles east of Dallas, is sandy clay pH unknown. With all the rain and cooler temps we've had this year there are lots of flowers and I'm collecting seeds. The plan is to start it growing close to the house for all to enjoy. Enjoyed looking at all the pictures and uploaded one I took recently.

Positive carolschuman On Sep 13, 2006, carolschuman from Arlington, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

These grow as cool season annuals here in zone 7/8, going by what I have seen and read online. They reseed so easily that I am happy to have them as annuals. I had the white (alba) variety when I moved to this house last May and was given seeds for the blue last fall (2005). I planted the blue in the spring '06, but with the dry conditions we had this summer, I was afraid I wouldn't get any blooms and might even lose them. Luckily I had one survivor and today I seen my first bloom on it!

Neutral jeaninpgh On Jul 30, 2006, jeaninpgh from Pittsburgh, PA wrote:

planted it here in z 6 outdoors will update w survival info next spring!!cross your fngers as i see a neighbor of mine in longwood gardens had it return!! I get many many so called tender perennials back here so am trying this & black bamboo this yr...

Positive mgagnon On Aug 26, 2005, mgagnon from Spring Hill, FL wrote:

Lovely vine, have searched for it since I picked up a few seeds at a local botanical garden here in Florida. So happy to know its name etc. It has given me much pleasure =just moved to a new home and will plant again.

Positive tcfromky On Aug 11, 2005, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Growing beautifully at Lonwood Gardens, zone 6.

Positive DawnRain On Apr 13, 2005, DawnRain from Bartow, FL wrote:

This is a favorite perennial in my Florida garden where my original plant is several years old. And I do know it is the original and not a dropped seedling. It has been through freezes and come back from the roots. In a frostless year it is evergreen, but bloom production does fall off alot in Feb and Mar. Just starting to put on plenty of bloom now in April. This is the wonderful double variety. I also have single which does not seem to be as hardy and has to be replanted. And I have the single white in a plant going on 3 years old.

Positive rjuddharrison On Apr 12, 2005, rjuddharrison from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This vine has a remarkable ability to thrive in small pots, or moss lined hanging baskets.

Positive Dinu On Mar 12, 2004, Dinu from Mysore
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

It is a lovely vine to have, esp. the blue one and in particular, the double blues. Flower colour is stunning, easy to start from seed and grow. It can tolerate some neglect. Seed pods have to be removed when it is fully ripe -- you can know by shaking the pod to hear the seed rattle. When pressed along the edges, it opens out like a coiled spring. If seeds are not removed, they can reseed easily and the following growing season, you may find lots and lots of seedlings many feet around it, since the pods throw open with great force to disperse. All in all, it is a beauty.

Positive TerriFlorida On Sep 29, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

Blue butterfly pea vine never fails to attract attention. It grows easily here in central Florida. It sometimes overwinters, as Thunbergia alata will. It is tolerant of acidic soil and drought, but shows its appreciation of enough water by growing and flowering with abandon. You can sew seeds directly here in cooler weather. It grows much more easily for me than Morning Glory ever did!

Positive ChristinaLee On Aug 1, 2003, ChristinaLee wrote:

Would like to share this interesting note:
This flower is very popular with Nonya (a culture of people from intermarriage of Chinese and Malays living in Singapore and Malaysia) as a natural (blue)food colouring often used in their kuehs (traditional rice cakes)and jelly. A few flowers are boiled in a little water to extract the colour.
Very easy to grow from seeds from pods that dried and browned on the plants. Commonly grown as hedge plant here in Singapore. As I am helping in kid's school garden, I have recently successfully grown 2 pots from seeds, 3-4 plants in 8" diameter pots, as they have soft stems. Pinching tops often will encourage bushier growth. Flowers bloom for 1 day only, so pinch off flowers in early evening to store in container in fridge to maintain freshness if not used that day, else leave on plant to develop into pods.
I noticed many varieties on various websites. The one used here bluish purple with a hint of yellow in the middle.

Positive butterflypea On Nov 13, 2002, butterflypea wrote:

Butterfly pea has naturalized on my property over the past 8 years. It is so a joy to so easily get that gorgeous blue color. It grows in all soil types and is drought tolerant. It does need some sun to flower. Each plant will produce beans that don't taste good, but contain seeds. The germination of these seeds is about 100%. Anyone can grow this vine!

Positive JlpnSon On May 24, 2002, JlpnSon from Lafayette, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have searched the internet for 3 days looking for this exact vine. I absolutely LOVED this vine. The flowers are a beautiful blue and the foilage is a consistent gorgeous medium to dark green. Mine did beautifully on the south side of the house where it got about 5 hours of direct mid day sunlight. It grows well without much fuss. (We have a huge oak tree that soaks up most of the water and nutrients from the soil, which has caused a problem for everything else, but not this vine) It could take over the flower bed easily, and that would be o.k. by me. We moved to Arizona and leased our house out and I some how ???? I forgot about the vine until I really got back into taking care of our yard again and I can not wait to have this vine again!

Neutral mystic On Aug 10, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

These are tender climbing vines. The leaves are made of 5 to 7 leaflets, each growing up to 4 inches long. The flowers resemble peas and are solitary, bright deep blue with light yellow markings to 2 inches long by 1 inches wide. This vine is a quick cover for lattice, trellis, arbor and chain-link fences


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

Attalla, Alabama
Jones, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Dinuba, California
Rancho Calaveras, California
Altamonte Springs, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida (2 reports)
Bradenton, Florida
Bradley, Florida
Clermont, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Defuniak Springs, Florida
Deland, Florida
Fort Pierce, Florida
Hollywood, Florida (2 reports)
Miami, Florida
Naples, Florida
Plant City, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida (3 reports)
Port Charlotte, Florida
Rockledge, Florida (2 reports)
Satellite Beach, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Stuart, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Patterson, Georgia
Thomson, Georgia
Villa Rica, Georgia
Haiku, Hawaii
Kihei, Hawaii
Barbourville, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2 reports)
Belle Rose, Louisiana
Slaughter, Louisiana
Youngsville, Louisiana
Pinckney, Michigan
Washington, Michigan
Brandon, Mississippi
Allentown, New Jersey
Angola, New York
Dundee, Ohio
Salem, Oregon
Mercer, Pennsylvania
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Bacliff, Texas
Bryan, Texas
Floresville, Texas
Garland, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas (3 reports)
Katy, Texas
Magnolia, Texas
Needville, Texas
Point, Texas
Port Arthur, Texas
Portland, Texas
Rosenberg, Texas
Spring, Texas
Smithfield, Virginia
Everett, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Spangle, Washington

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