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Clitoria (253000626).jpg
Clitoria ternatea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Phaseoleae
Subtribe: Clitoriinae
Genus: Clitoria

Many, see text.

Blue and white varieties of Clitoria ternatea

Clitoria is a genus of flowering plants that are insect pollinated.

Distribution and uses[edit]

These plants are native to tropical and temperate areas of the world, including southeast Asia and Madagascar, where the flowers are often used as a food dye or dipped in batter and deep-fried.

The most widely known species of the genus is Clitoria ternatea, also known as Butterfly pea. It has medicinal uses[citation needed] and it is used as food as well. Its roots are used in ayurveda Indian medicine.[1] In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, it has been used for centuries as a memory enhancer, nootropic, antistress, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, tranquilizing and sedative agent.

Naming of the genus[edit]

This genus was named after the human female clitoris, for the flowers bear a resemblance to female genitals. Originally the first described species of the genus was given the name Flos clitoridis ternatensibus in 1678 by Rumpf, a German-born botanist employed by the Dutch East India Company. It was regarded as appropriately named by Johann Philipp Breyne in 1747.[2] Many vernacular names of these flowers in different languages are similarly based on references to a woman's sexual organ.[3]

There were controversies in the past among botanists regarding the good taste of the naming of the genus. The analogy drew sharp criticism from botanists like James Edward Smith in 1807, Amos Eaton in 1817, Michel Étienne Descourtilz in 1826 and Eaton and Wright in 1840. Some less explicit alternatives, like Vexillaria (Eaton 1817) and Nauchea (Descourtilz 1826), were proposed, but they didn't prosper and the name Clitoria has survived to this day.[4]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "APARËJITË (Root)". The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India (Part I Volume II). Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. pp. 10–11. 
  2. ^ Paul R. Fantz, Nomenclatural notes on the genus Clitoria
  3. ^ Clitoria ternatea
  4. ^ Fantz, Paul R. (1991). "Ethnobotany of Clitoria (Leguminosae)". Economic Botany (New York Botanical Garden Press) 45 (4): 511–20. doi:10.1007/BF02930715. JSTOR 4255394. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Rai KS, Murthy KD, Karanth KS, Rao MS (July 2001). "Clitoria ternatea (Linn) root extract treatment during growth spurt period enhances learning and memory in rats". Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 45 (3): 305–13. PMID 11881569.