Clitoria ternatea
Common Name: butterfly pea 
Type: Vine
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: Tropical Asia and Africa
Zone: 11 to 12
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy


In climates where temperatures do not dip below 60 degrees F., this tropical climber may be grown outdoors as a short lived perennial in evenly moist, fertile, well-drained soils in full sun. It appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot climates. It needs a support on which to climb. Where temperatures dip below 60 degrees F., this plant may be grown in a greenhouse. It is frequently grown as an annual or biennial. It is easily grown from seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Clitoria ternatea, commonly called butterfly pea, is an evergreen climber that typically grows on slender stems to 10' (less frequently to 15') tall. It will trail through a shrub to 6'. Native territory of this vine is unclear... some say Asia and some say tropical America. The specific epithet is in reference to the Island of Ternate in Indonesia which was considered by Linnaeus as native territory. Regardless of native origin, it is today pantropical thanks to naturalization from human cultivation. This climber features compound odd-pinnate leaves (to 5" long), each with 5-9 elliptic to ovate rich green leaflets. Pea-like, clear blue flowers (2" diameter) with yellowish centers bloom singly or in pairs from summer to fall. Fruits are flattened pods.

Genus name comes from the Latin word clitoris meaning clitoris for a characteristic of the flower.

Specific epithet means in clusters of three.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for spider mites. Whiteflies may appear. Anthracnose and bacterial soft rot.


Grown on a support such as a trellis. Weave through a hedge.