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Clitoria ternatea L.

Clitoria ternatea L.




Clitoria zanzibarensis Vatke, Clitoria tanganicensis Micheli, Clitoria mearnsii De Wild.

Vernacular Names


Bunga biru, kacang telang.


Butterfly pea, K(C)ordofan pea, blue pea, Asian pigeon-wings.


Bunga biru (Malay), kembang telang (Javanese, Sundanese).


Kolokanting (Tagalog), giting princesa (Bikol), balog-balog (Visaya).




'Ang s'an dam, bang s'an dam.




Dâu biê'c.

Geographical Distributions

Clitoria ternatea is pantropical (20ON -24OS). Its true origin is obscured by extensive cultivation or naturalisation in the humid lowland tropics of Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas. It is widespread throughout Southeast Asia.


Clitoria ternatea is a perennial, climbing, scrambling or trailing herb with a strong woody rootstock. The stems do not root at the nodes, slender, measure 0.5-3 m long, mostly hairy or becoming hairless and sometimes suberect at the base.

The leaves are pinnate with 5 or 7 elliptical leaflets, oblong, oblong-lance-shaped, or almost round, measuring 1-7 cm x 0.3-4 cm, acute, rounded or emarginate at the apex, acute to rounded at the base, becoming hairless above and adpressed hairy beneath. The petiole is 1-3 cm long and rachis 1-6 cm long. Petiolules are 1-3 mm long, with persistent stipules, lance-shaped, measure (2-)4-10 mm long and veined.

The flowers are axillary, solitary or paired. The peduncle is 3-10 mm long while pedicel is 6-9 mm long and twisted 180O so that the standard is held lowermost. The bracteoles are ovate or round, measuring 4-17 mm x 2.5-15 mm and veined. The sepal is hairy, veined, with tube 8-12 mm long. The lobes are oblong-lance-shaped or triangular, measuring 7-10 mm x 2.5-3 mm, acute or acuminate while the upper pair is joined for less than one third of their length, standard oblong-obovate, measuring 25-50 mm x 15-35 mm, white or greenish-white and often blue-margined or entirely blue, while the basal central area is often yellow or greenish, very finely hairy and the margins are sometimes finely ciliate.

The pod is linear-oblong, flattened, measuring 6-12.5 cm x 7-12 mm, margined, apiculate, hairless or with a mixture of sparse adpressed long hairs and very short hairs. There are 8-10 seeds which are ellipsoid, oblong or oblong-kidney-shaped, sometimes truncate at one end, measuring 4.5-7 mm x 3-4 mm, 2-2.5 mm, olive, pale brown or deep reddish-brown with dark mottling, or almost black and minutely pitted.

Ecology / Cultivation

Clitoria ternatea is essentially a plant of the humid and subhumid tropical lowlands, but it has a reputation for drought tolerance in the seasonally dry tropics (500-900 mm rainfall) and it has survived moderate frost damage in the subtropics (26°8). It occurs in grassland, open woodland, bush, riverine vegetation, and disturbed places throughout its natural range. C. ternatea grows best in full sun. Its annual rainfall requirements for survival may be as low as 400 mm, but it requires about 1500 mm (or supplementary irrigation) for best production. Its altitudinal range is 0-1600 (-1800) m and annual mean temperature range is 19-28°C. It has wide soil adaptation (pH 5.5-8.9), but prefers fertile friable soils and grows poorly on infertile sandy soils if not fertilised. It is one of the few herbaceous legumes well-adapted to heavy clay soils in the subhumid to semi-arid tropics and the only one with potential to grow in irrigated pasture mixtures on these soils. It will not tolerate flooding or water-logging. In the seasonally dry tropics and in cool regions, growth is limited by lack of moisture or low temperatures. The leaves are shed in response to these stresses and top growth may be killed by frost or fire. However, recovery during the following growing season is usually good, provided grazing is not heavy and continuous.

Line Drawing / Photograph


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1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.4: Forages.

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