Sunday, March 1, 2009

Butterfly Pea (Clitoria ternatea)

Clitoria ternatea, also known as blue pea vine, butterfly pea is a a deep-rooted, tall slender, climbing legume with five leaflets and a bright deep blue with light yellow markings to 2 inches long by 1½ inches wide. Is is native to tropical and equatorial Asia. The plants may be grown
with support crops (or) staked with bamboo to facilitate hand picking of the pods.

How to grow:
The plant is tolerance to all types of soil. It prefer moist soil with well drainage. Prefer full sun and tolerant to partial shade during hot afternoon. Prefer warm climate, tolerates average daily temperatures down to 15ÂșC but not suited to districts with severe or frequent frosts. Will regrow from stems following light frost or from the plant base after heavy frost. To start seeds, soak in water 3-4 hours before sowing. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days. The plants tend to get leggy very quickly, so pinching helps to keep it bushy.

Flowering season
Flowers can develop in 4-6 weeks after sowing and continue to flower while temperature and moisture are adequate.

Originally selected as a cover crop. Widely planted as an ornamental on fence rows. Now used for short and medium-term pastures and as green manure, cover crop and protein bank. Increases soil fertility to improve yields of subsequent crops (maize, sorghum, wheat) when grown as green manure or ley pasture. Also used for cut-and-carry and conserved as hay. Hay suitable for goats in Sudan. Used as a revegetation species on coal mines in central Queensland, Australia. In Southeast Asia the flowers are used to colour food. In Malay cooking, an aqueous extract is used to colour glutinous rice for kuih tekan (also known as pulut seri kaya) and in nonya chang.

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