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

See text.

  • Neurocarpum Desv.
  • Ternatea Tourn. ex Mill.

Clitoria is a genus of mainly tropical and subtropical,[1] insect-pollinated flowering pea vines.


Naming of the genus[edit]

This genus was named after the human clitoris, for the flowers bear a resemblance to the vulva. The first reference to the genus, which includes an illustration of the plant, was made in 1678 by Jakób Breyne, a Polish naturalist, who described it as Flos clitoridis ternatensibus, meaning 'Ternatean flower of the clitoris'.[2][3] Many vernacular names of these flowers in different languages are similarly based on references to female external genitalia.[4]

Controversies existed in the past among botanists regarding the good taste of the naming of the genus. The analogy drew sharp criticism from botanists such as 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 failed to prosper, and the name Clitoria has survived to this day.[5]


Blue and white varieties of Clitoria ternatea

As of June 2021, Plants of the World Online accepted the following species:[1]


These plants are native to tropical, subtropical and temperate areas of the world, from western North America east to Australia.[1]


The most widely known species of the genus is Clitoria ternatea, also known as butterfly pea. It is used as an herbal medicine,[6][7] and it is used as food, as well.[8][9] Its roots are used in ayurveda Hindu medicine.[10]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Clitoria L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  2. ^ Fantz, Paul R. (2000). "Nomenclatural Notes on the Genus Clitoria for the Flora North American Project". Castanea. 65 (2): 89–92. JSTOR 4034108.
  3. ^ Breyne, Jakób (1678). Exoticarum aliarumque minus cognitarum plantarum centuria prima [Exotic and other less-known plants of the first century] (in Latin). Biblioteca Digital del Real Jardin Botanico de Madrid: David-Fridericus Rhetius.
  4. ^ Clitoria ternatea
  5. ^ Fantz, Paul R. (1991). "Ethnobotany of Clitoria (Leguminosae)". Economic Botany. 45 (4): 511–20. doi:10.1007/BF02930715. JSTOR 4255394. S2CID 38939748.
  6. ^ Mukherjee PK, Kumar V, Kumar NS, Heinrich M (2008). "The Ayurvedic medicine Clitoria ternatea-From traditional use to scientific assessment". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 120 (3): 291–301. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.09.009. PMID 18926895.
  7. ^ Fantz, Paul R. (1991). "Ethnobotany of Clitoria (Leguminosae)". Economic Botany. 45 (4): 511–20. doi:10.1007/BF02930715. JSTOR 4255394. S2CID 38939748.
  8. ^ "Flora and Fauna Web: Clitoria ternatea L."[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Pantazi, Chloe (February 26, 2016). "Watch this tea dramatically change from deep blue to vibrant red with a squeeze of lemon". Business Insider Deutchsland. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  10. ^ "APARËJITË (Root)" (PDF). The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India (Part I Volume II). Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. pp. 10–11.

Further reading[edit]

Data related to Clitoria at Wikispecies

  • 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.

Media related to Clitoria at Wikimedia Commons