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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clitoria ternatea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Cicereae
Genus: Clitoria

Many, see text.

Clitoria mariana flower
Blue and white varieties of Clitoria ternatea

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


Distribution and uses

These plants are native to tropical and temperate areas of the Old and New World including southeast Asia, where the flowers are often used as a food dye.

In animal tests the methanolic extract of Clitoria ternatea (Butterfly pea) roots demonstrated nootropic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant and antistress activity. The active constituent(s) include Tannins, resins, Starch, Taraxerol & Taraxerone. Clitoria ternatea root extracts are capable of curing whooping cough if taken orally. The extract from the white-flowered plant can cure goiter. Its roots are used in the ayurveda system of Indian medicine.

Naming of the genus

The shape of the Clitoria flowers has inspired the name of the genus.

This genus was named after the human female clitoris, for the flowers bear a resemblance to female pudenda. 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. Many vernacular names of these flowers in different languages are similarly based on references to a woman's sexual organ.

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 √Čtienne 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.[1]


  • Clitoria albiflora Mattei
  • Clitoria amazonum Benth.
  • Clitoria andrei Fantz
  • Clitoria angustifolia Kunth
  • Clitoria annua J. Graham
  • Clitoria arborea Benth.
  • Clitoria arborescens R. Br.
  • Clitoria australis Benth.
  • Clitoria biflora Dalziel
  • Clitoria brachystegia Benth.
  • Clitoria bracteata Poir.
  • Clitoria brasiliana L.
  • Clitoria cajanifolia (C. Presl) Benth.
  • Clitoria capitata Rich.
  • Clitoria dendrina Pittier
  • Clitoria fairchildiana R. A. Howard
  • Clitoria falcata Lam.
  • Clitoria fragrans Small
  • Clitoria glycinoides DC.
  • Clitoria guianensis (Aubl.) Benth.
  • Clitoria heterophylla Lam.
    • Clitoria heterophylla var. heterophylla
    • Clitoria heterophylla var. pedunculata (Bojer ex Benth.) Fantz
  • Clitoria javitensis subsp. javitensis
  • Clitoria laurifolia Poir.
  • Clitoria linearis Gagnep.
  • Clitoria mariana L.
  • Clitoria mearnsii De Wild.
  • Clitoria mexicana Link
  • Clitoria moyobambensis Fantz
  • Clitoria nana Benth.
  • Clitoria pedunculata Bojer ex Benth.
  • Clitoria pinnata (Pers.) R. H. Sm. & G. P. Lewis
  • Clitoria plumieri Turpin ex Pers.
  • Clitoria polyphylla Poir.
  • Clitoria racemosa G. Don
  • Clitoria racemosa Benth.
  • Clitoria rubiginosa Pers.
  • Clitoria sagotii Fantz
  • Clitoria schiedeana Schltdl.
  • Clitoria stipularis Benth.
  • Clitoria tanganicensis Micheli
  • Clitoria ternatea L.
  • Clitoria virginiana L.
  • Clitoria woytkowskii Fantz
  • Clitoria zanzibarensis Vatke


  • The Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia of India, Part-I, Volume-II, First edition,Ministry of Health & family welfare,Government of India.
  • Neeti N. Jain, C. C. Ohal, S. K. Shroff, R. H. Bhutada, R. S. Somani, V. S. Kasture and S. B. Kasture. Clitoria ternatea and the CNS. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior Volume 75, Issue 3 , June 2003, Pages 529-536
  • Rai KS, Murthy KD, Karanth KS, Rao MS. Clitoria ternatea (Linn) root extract treatment during growth spurt period enhances learning and memory in rats. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2001 Jul;45(3):305-13


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Clitoria ternatea


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales
Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Faboideae
Tribus: Phaseoleae
Subtribus: Clitoriinae
Genus: Clitoria
Species: C. amazonum - C. annua - C. arborea - C. arborescens - C. australis - C. dendrina - C. fairchildiana - C. falcata - C. fragrans - C. guianensis - C. heterophylla - C. javitensis - C. laurifolia - C. linearis - C. mariana - C. mexicana - C. nana - C. sagotii - C. stipularis - C. ternatea


Clitoria L.


Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Clitoria on Wikimedia Commons.
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 10-Apr-2009]. 2709

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